David Louis Sestak saved Alexander Popoff from drowning, West Sacramento, California, January 14, 1998. After his automobile left the highway, entered the rain-swollen Sacramento River, and submerged, Popoff, 70, freed himself through the driver’s window and surfaced, dazed. Another motorist, Sestak, 37, construction manager, saw the accident. He stopped at the scene and descended to the bank of the river, which, carrying debris, was flowing swiftly. Concluding that there was no time even to remove his boots, Sestak entered the very cold water and swam about 50 feet to Popoff, who had submerged again. He grasped Popoff with one hand and, using the other, swam back toward the bank as the current carried them downstream. Nearing the bank, Sestak snagged on a submerged branch, but he freed himself. Popoff then clung to a submerged tree about 10 feet from the waterline as Sestak obtained a branch from the bank. He extended the branch to Popoff and pulled him to the bank and out of the river. Popoff required hospital treatment for minor injury, from which he recovered.
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