A South Dakota man made an unexpected catch when he helped pull his drowning friend from the Willamette River after a fishing trip. Pete and Steve were pulling their boat onto a trailer when it broke free and slid back into the water. Steve waded into the Willamette’s icy current to recover the boat, but was soon struggling to keep his head above the water.

Pete directed bystanders to dial 911, but did not wait for help to arrive. After a moment of indecision, he plunged into the Willamette to rescue his friend. “Oh my god, what do I do? So I’m peeling clothes [off] and jumping in the water,” Pete explained.

Pete stepped into the boat and supported Steve, who couldn’t climb aboard due to the weight of his soaked clothes. After 20 minutes the friends began to tire, and Steve’s head slipped beneath the surface of the water. Just then, however, the Clackamas County water rescue team arrived and pulled Steve from the river. He was hospitalized, but remained conscious and alert, according to reports.

Reflecting on the event, Pete said, “I think I saved his life.”

Nicholas Comerchero is a sophomore at Corban University, where he plans to complete his undergraduate degree in political science. Nicholas enjoys thinking, writing, and speaking about public policy and economics.