Everyone likes to spend his or her birthday in a special way — even if that is (inexplicably to me) ignoring it entirely.
Obadiah Jenkins of Homer, Alaska decided to celebrate his 33rd birthday this year by attending the Six-Mile Creek Whitewater and Bluegrass Festival in Hope. He hadn’t brought a kayak or even a paddle; he just planned to watch the events.
His friends, though, thought he needed to get out on the water and rounded up the gear he’d need.
It’s fortunate for Daniel Hartung that they did. Jenkins ended up helping to rescuing the more inexperienced kayaker after he flipped into the creek’s frigid waters.
Drop over Waterfall
Hartung, 64, was taking a practice run in Class IV rapids (the most extreme rating for rivers) before the kayakers were in place to help anyone in distress were on the course. He floated downriver and was swept toward a canyon wall and over a drop named Waterfall.
Jenkins, noticing Hartung was pinned under a tree, dropped a rope down to him. But Hartung was unable to get free. “The more I struggled, the more my head went lower. At first, I could keep my head up and breathe, but then it became difficult to catch a breath,” Hartung told the Alaska Dispatch News later.
Jenkins jumped into the water to rescue Hartung after the older man had been stuck in the current for more than five minutes. Even, at one point, with his face forced into the water for 45 seconds.
In jumping in Jenkins knew he was violating “the first principle of rescuing: Don’t endanger yourself to save someone else.” But he moved on autopilot.
“It was my birthday and I just wanted that guy to have another birthday,” he said. “My brain went into automatic mode, and I knew that if I didn’t act immediately, we would be recovering a body.”
Hartung was unconscious when pulled to shore and needed CPR. Jenkins said of the man he rescued: “He was a fighter…To hang on that long in that cold water was pretty impressive. After two rounds of doing chest compressions to him on the riverbank, his wife came down and talked to him. You could tell that hearing her voice helped bring him around. His pulse came back and he began breathing on his own.”
Hartung was taken to hospital and released. Jenkins, too, suffered a sore body from diving into the current, but was still happy the situation ended well.
The New York Post has a video of the rescue you can see too.