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.
(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!)