About a Fisherman named Dave Crawford…

by Rebecca on June 23, 2010

in Fishing Observations, Outdoor Observations

~Dave helping Lucas bring in a mighty salmon~

I like to be taken by surprise by people, the good way that is. I’ve learned through time that admiration for another person can be forged in many ways, and on Saturday I found myself first admiring a certain man for his quiet act of Fatherhood and later for his  more profound jaw dropping actions of a hero.

On Saturday the salmon fishing was a blaze of fish moving up the river which means everyone was having the time of their life. Shouts of “FISH ON” were at a constant interval and the crowd seemed to get bigger and bigger as the day wore on.

I first noticed Dave in the line up of fisherman because he was fishing differently than everyone else. He had his son positioned in front of him and every time it was his turn to cast, he would do so and then instantly hand Lucas the rod to drift through the current. Over and over they did this. When Lucas would feel the yank of a salmon at the end of the line, Dave would then help his son fight that big fish to the bank.

Now, perhaps a man teaching his son to fish isn’t such a big deal, but to me, on that day, it meant something pretty big. The fishing was crazy. The salmon were thick. Frenzy was in the air and Dave’s eyes could have glazed over like the rest of us and fished the run for all it was worth, for himself. He could have sat Lucas on the bank with the other kids to watch the action, but he didn’t. Instead, Lucas and Dave became a combined act of Father and Son. It was awesome to watch. Admirable.

I didn’t know Dave’s name until later that night and if the next part of my story didn’t happen, I believe I would have just remembered him as the man who impressed me with his act of Fatherhood up salmon fishing.

To paint the picture: There’s a reason I haven’t worn my waders over the last month. The river I’ve been going to is a vicious stretch of raging current. As far as I see it, there’s no reason to tempt even one foot in and risk getting swept down the gauntlet of current and body crushing boulders. However, there is one group of people,  the Natives, who frequently step into the water. I fish the mouth of a smaller river that only the Natives are allowed to venture up and use their dip nets or gafs in, so I can usually look upstream and watch them wading in (without waders) to catch their bounty. Their river is smaller, less swift, before it dumps into the bigger river, but it’s still dangerous.

Late Saturday night I standing on the bank with my line pulled in watching 3 other people in various states of fighting or netting fish when I heard a different sort of noise rising up over the defeaning sound of the river. I looked up at the bank to see people pointing furiously up the smaller river and I turned just in time to see a young Indian girls face float past me and out into the big river. I saw, just her face, just her panic stricken eyes. I felt sick and helpless as she swept past me. My voice instantly joined the other screams to help her and I dropped my rod and ran like so many other people downstream in a feeble attempt to …..what, I do not know.

I know this. Several people who had a small lead time on the girl tried to help her. Nets were extended out, a few people went into the water to try to help her, but the attempts proved to late, or not quite in reach, or just missed. At the time when the panic broke, Dave was walking down the bank. When he realized what had happened, he dropped his fishing gear and sprinted down the river to get ahead of the girl. I don’t know the exact details, or what was going through his mind, but I know he managed to get to a small window of opportunity and without regard to his own safety, he jumped into that unforgiving river and grabbed that young girl from certain death…

I still stand amazed at this mans show of courage, his selfless act of bravery and will never forget the feeling of admiration I felt overwhelm me as I approached him and asked if I could hug the man who just saved a girls life. I still smile at his response to me. He said, “I’m all wet, you’ll get soaked!” I didn’t care.

I don’t like the notion of unsung heroes. I want everyone to know that a man named Dave Crawford dove into a freezing, raging river to save a 17 year old girls life and it had a happy ending.
Dave was that young girls miracle that night, and a hero for all of us to admire.

~Lucas with his fish, Proud Dad looking on~ (blame the photographer, that's me, for the fuzzy picture)

(About the girl: From the information given to me. She was taken to the hospital right after the incident and treated for shock, hypothermia and the beating her lower body took over the rocks, but she’s ok thanks to Dave!)


{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

KirkNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 1:53 pm

What an incredible thing to witness. Dave is a true hero. I hope you submit this to the local papers – that man deserves, though he probably doesn’t want, public recognition. We need more Dave’s in the world.


WayneNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm

your story made my day.


WolfyNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm


I’m pretty hardened – to the point of being called a curmudgeon – by that was a very well told tale of events worth telling.

Thank you both – Dave for the obvious (rescue) and less obvious (great parenting) and Rebecca (terrific rendition of the events)


troutrageous1No Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Thanks for posting that. With so many things pointed in the wrong direction in the world today, it’s great to see a true hero (& great dad) get his deserved recognition.

It also makes one self-reflect, would I do the same if presented with the same situation? I’d like to think so, but if push came to shove, I’m not 100% sure. It doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes his selfless act even more amazing.


Darce VassarNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm

What can I say, Dave, this story moved me to tears. I am proud to call you my friend. Way to go and so glad you are both alive to share the joy!! BTW— nice looking fish, Lucas!!


HellsCanyonNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Rebecca, I can’t thank you enough for writing this! Proud to say we know Dave – he lives here at the North entrance to Hells Canyon. What you saw was typical Dave – both he and his wife are amazingly kind people raising a beautiful family. I’ll be sharing this on Facebook and Twitter – great, great post!


Lisa D JenkinsNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Oh, Rebecca, it’s crazy how our lives keep intertwining in far away places! You’re going to have to come fish Hells Canyon or the Grande Ronde soon. Dave and his wife live in the same valley that I do. Kind, goodhearted people who have helped me with several wine tastings (from when I worked in a gallery in my previous life). Thank you for singing out to make sure he’s not an unsung hero – you rock for that, Sister!


RebeccaNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 6:19 pm

@Kirk ~ I agree 100% about being a true hero. I’ll see if I can get the story into the right hands =)

@Wayne ~ I appreciate that you came and read it. A happy ending always makes a for a better day and I’ve been seeing a lot of those lately!

@Wolfy ~ Now, I would have never pegged you for a hardened curmudgeon! Dave did everything, I just observed and told the story. Thank you for kind words!

@Troutrageous ~ His action was pretty amazing. I am one of the people who would like to think she’d do anything in the world to help another, but when I looked into that river and watched her swoop by no farther than 8 feet from me I didn’t dive in. I don’t know what that says about me, but everything happened so fast. I looked, I screamed and she was already 20 feet down the river. She went by who knows how many people (she went down the river a decent distance) who did their best whether it was by shouting, getting the attention of people ahead of her or just looking on in shock. Dave is pretty amazing……..

@Darce ~ You are a lucky person to call Dave a friend. We are all lucky he was shared with us Sat. night…..

@Hellscanyon & @LisaDJenkins ~ The world really is a small place! Your kind words about Dave sound right on track with the impression I got of him. A great person….no….make that, an extraordinary man. Thank you for reading his story and spreading the word.


ShoremanNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

You’ve sure pumped up my day with that story. It takes a great guy to do what Dave did. A hero for sure. Thanks for sharing.



LouiseNo Gravatar June 23, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I’m proud of my son, but not surprised by his actions on Sat.


FishizzleNo Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 5:07 am

Wow! What a wonderful way to begin the day, reading your account of Dave & Lucas’s day at the river! Lucas is a very fortunate young man to have a Dad like Dave. Dave, if you’re listening, you make us Dads, fishers, and general good-guys very proud! Rebecca, thanks for sharing! (and btw, I am very happy your waders found their way home….lucky waders, indeed!).


JeffNo Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 6:08 am

Awesome!!!!! What a great story, thanks so much for sharing, that absolutely made my day. There are still some great people out there among us.


Matt SmytheNo Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 6:36 am

Such a great story. A perfect example of the strength and selflessness we all hope we’re capable of when the situation arises. I wish I could shake his hand. Thanks for sharing, Rebecca.


ColoradoAnglerNo Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 9:30 am

Hat’s off to Dave for his unselfish act of bravery. Absolutely incredible story. A true hero if ever there was one.


nimrod243No Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Wow, it’s pretty amazing that of all the people there, one extraordinary man, Dave, didn’t think twice of his own safety and saved a precious life. Now, that’s a hero… forget about the celebrity atheletes.

Mega-kudos to Dave.
Thank you for sharing this, Rebecca.


The GoosemasterNo Gravatar June 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Wow! What a story. To risk all for another. This is the person that we all want to be but few really are. This type of action is what restores the faith in mankind. How could you not be moved.


Kentucky JimNo Gravatar June 25, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Wow! Thanks, Dave. Thanks, Rebecca. You both made my day!


DanNo Gravatar June 27, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Great story, Dave is what we all want to be and need to have. We also need people like you Rebecca to tell the story and give credit to a real hero for such a brave act. Thanks to both of you. Dan


MNAnglerNo Gravatar June 28, 2010 at 6:16 am

Wonderful story. Don’t beat yourself up for your hesitation. You knew the dangers and thought better of it. I probably would have done the same. Dave’s actions could have ended quite differently and you could be telling a very different story. But it was a brave and selfless act under “normal” conditions of a river, let alone a raging one.


Michael BogdaniecNo Gravatar June 29, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Just like Dave to something Heroic like this! Atta Boy!

ps: Ive been on river trips with Dave where hes spent more time in the water than in the boat:)



Dave CrawfordNo Gravatar June 29, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Rebecca is a pretty amazing lady in her own right. Last Saturday a young teenage girl was fishing the same hole when she hooked a nice salmon. The heavy fish and swift current were more than she expected, and she lost her balance, falling forward toward the torrent. Rebecca was behind the girl and saw what was happening. With lightning-fast reflexes, she grabbed the girl by the collar and pulled her back, keeping her from falling in and being swept downstream. The girls’ father, seeing what was transpiring, had already started downriver to go after her. Thanks to Rebecca, neither of them had to go into the water.


William @ AnglerWiseNo Gravatar June 30, 2010 at 12:43 am

Great story of a rare type of man. There aren’t too many of those type of men left in this world. What sets this guy, Dave, apart is that he has a big sack of BALLS. Yep, I said it, BALLS. I try to keep mine in check too. Anyway, I would like to shake the hand of that hero. Thanks for sharing.


fishing loverNo Gravatar July 12, 2010 at 4:22 am

Amazing father son relationship is depicted here fishing bonds me with my son too


KJNo Gravatar August 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Just found your website, so the comment is a few months after the fact.

This was truly inspiring! It’s good to know guys like Dave are still out there. I used to fish this river (Not sure why you left it nameless, it’s hardly a secret). The current is NASTY during runoff. Good on ya, Dave! And way to tell the tale, Rebecca.


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