William R. Langendorf saved Mary Virginia Durkin from drowning, Parker, Arizona, October 2, 1962. Mrs. Durkin, 43, entered the Colorado River, swam 250 feet from the bank and, floating on her back, drifted downstream toward a dangerous whirlpool created by an open gate at a dam. A man ran to the dam’s powerhouse and reported the situation to Langendorf, 62, dam tender,who suffered with chronic arthritis. Langendorf tied a rope around a styrofoam block eight inches wide and 20 inches long and ran to the bank 90 feet above the dam. He removed his shoes, told the man to hold the other end of the rope, and entered the water, which was uniformly 25 feet deep. Holding the styrofoam block under one arm, he swam to 100 feet from the bank and, with the rope almost fully extended, intercepted Mrs. Durkin, who was making only feeble movements. Langendorf took hold of Mrs. Durkin, who was a large woman, and trod water 100 feet from the edge of the whirlpool in which there was a strong suction of water downward through the dam gate. At Langendorf urging, Mrs. Durkin grasped the styrofoam block, and the man drew them to the bank.
46869 – 480246869-4802