March 20, 2019 06:45 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- The photo has been shared nearly a thousand times but the trooper in the photo says, no thanks are necessary even though, for Iowa State Trooper Neal Johnson, what started off an ordinary Monday morning turned into a rescue mission.
"Just growing up with life experiences... you know, had the desire to help people," said Johnson.
A younger Neal Johnson, eager to join law enforcement, would be proud of the Iowa State Trooper he’d become because helping people is exactly what he’d do having only been with the Iowa State Patrol for less than six months.
"I was just doing a routine patrol on the interstate and I had actually just turned off of the interstate when there was a call for that accident," said Johnson.
The accident occurring shortly after 9 a.m. Monday morning off of Interstate 35 outside of Mason City.
And upon arrival to the crash, Johnson says that there was already a gentleman who was trying to make contact with the driver.
The car had rolled over and landed in a nearby ditch which was filled with icy water. Fortunately for the driver, the car landed right-side up.
Without hesitation, Trooper Neal Johnson with the Iowa State Patrol quickly sprang into action.
"You're told to assess everything but, ultimately, I did just go in there,” Johnson said, “It started at ankle deep and I was like 'that's not so bad' to 'wow, it's almost waist deep'."
But the waist deep, icy, cold water didn’t stop Johnson from helping the 82-year-old male driver, as described in a Tweet from a fellow officer, out of the car to dry land. Johnson says that while the water was cold and deep, his concern was getting the driver to land without him falling or slipping.
Once on land, the driver was quickly covered in emergency heating blankets and put into the patrol car, which was being heated, to reduce his chance of getting hypothermia. He was later taken to an area hospital where more extensive tests were done.
A fellow trooper, Officer Jon Stickney, snapped and Tweeted a photo of the rescue which was quickly shared on social media. It garnered a lot of compliments as well as some jokes from fellow troopers who noted that he wasn’t wearing his hat [cover] or a reflective vest.
"Yeah, that's true. I should have had my cover on but I didn't want to get it wet,” says Trooper Neal Johnson with the Iowa State Patrol. He joked that next time, he’ll remember to keep his hat on and try to remember to grab the vest.
But jokes aside, Johnson says that he wasn’t the hero that morning, the two people who also assisted him and fellow troopers were. Noting that one, a female, was a nurse.
"They could have, they really could have, drove on their merry way, called it in and said 'well I'm late for work, I've got to get work' or 'I've got to get to this meeting' but they chose to stop and they chose to seek it all the way through," Johnson said.
Later that day, Johnson did say that he reached out to the driver to see how he was doing. He said that the driver was still shaken and disoriented but was grateful for the help that not only Johnson provided but the help from the other two as well.
Updated: March 20, 2019 06:45 PM
Created: March 20, 2019 06:36 PM
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