Steven J. Keller helped to save Rhonda W. Knickles from drowning, Mandeville, Louisiana, April 25, 2010. Knickles, 49, fell into Lake Pontchartrain after she was involved in an automobile accident on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway at a point about six miles from the closer shore. On his way to work for a municipality at the far end of the bridge, Keller, 30, police officer, came upon the scene and saw Knickles floating face down in the 14-foot-deep water at a point about 60 feet from the bridge. As the first-arriving causeway police officer placed a ladder over the side of the bridge, Keller donned the officer’s life vest and then descended the ladder and swam to Knickles. He turned her over, finding her unconscious, and supported her in 3.5-foot waves as a swift current in the lake carried them farther from the bridge. Another motorist stopped at the scene and also donned a life vest and entered the water from the bridge. He swam to a life ring that had been thrown by the officer and took it to Keller, and together the men placed Knickles on the ring and held to it as they were carried farther away. Other causeway police officers arrived, and one of them entered the water with a flotation device and aided Knickles and her rescuers back to the causeway, where they were lifted to safety. Knickles was taken to the hospital but died of drowning the following day. Keller was nearly exhausted after the rescue, but he recovered.
83126 – 945583126-9455