David G. Brons helped to save Phillip H. Estes from drowning, Richland, Washington, April 4, 2002. Estes, 68, was unconscious inside his pickup truck after it left the roadway, entered the Yakima River, and, sinking nose first, was carried downstream by the swift current. Driving by, Brons, 31, pipefitter, stopped at the scene, then dived into the river, which was swollen by runoff, and swam to the truck. He entered the truck’s bed and attempted to break out the rear window of the cab, then called to bystanders for a rock. One provided, Brons used it to break the window, the truck then sinking to a rest about 20 feet from the bank in water about eight feet deep. Brons reached through the window and attempted to extract Estes but found him restrained by his safety belt. Bystanders produced a knife, and Brons submerged with it, partially entered the cab, and attempted to cut the belt, but he became stuck between Estes and the ceiling of the cab. Withdrawing and surfacing, Brons moved to the driver’s side of the truck and opened that door, propping it ajar with a leg as he reached inside, cut Estes’s safety belt, then pulled Estes from the truck and took him to the surface of the water. He handed Estes to another man, who took him to the bank, Brons following. Estes was revived at the scene, then was hospitalized for more than two months for treatment of respiratory distress. He recovered. Brons sustained minor cuts and bruises, from which he recovered.
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