On Thursday, October 23, 2014, Colusa County Sheriffs Deputies, Kristopher Cooper and Dean Pearson were awarded the Silver Star of Valor award, presented by Sheriff, Scott D. Marshall, for their quick thinking and acts of heroism after helping save the life of a San Leandro man earlier this summer.
Myong Lee, 54 of San Leandro, was floating down the Sacramento River with his family on July 18, 2014 and for unknown reasons fell off his tube and struggled to stay afloat.
Due to Lee’s position, he was trapped with the tube pulling down on his head, floating swiftly towards the area of the Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area.
“During this time, Deputy Pearson was working the patrol shift in the Colusa Area, and Deputy Cooper was also in the area working the boat patrol on the Sacramento River. Both deputies arrived within minutes of the call aiding to Lee,” said Lt. Neil Pearson.
Arriving on the scene, Deputy Pearson jumped into the patrol boat from the bank to assist Deputy Cooper.
“Lee, who by this time had been struggling and immersed in the cold water for an extended period, was becoming very weak,” said Lt. Neil Pearson.
As Deputy Cooper positioned the boat so that Deputy Pearson could grasp onto Lee from the bow of the boat, freeing him from tube.
“By this time Lee had now gone limp and was in and out of consciousness, unable to provide any assistance to the deputies,” said Lt. Neil Pearson, “ Lee was not wearing any floatation device nor was there any line or strap attached to him at this time should Deputy Pearson had have lost his grip on him.”
While Deputy Cooper was trying to maneuver the boat closer to the bank Deputy Pearson was starting to lose his grip on Lee, requiring Deputy Cooper to shut off the boat to help Deputy Pearson hold onto Lee.
“Lee was unconscious and was at risk of drowning had he slipped from their grip,” added Lt. Neil Pearson.
When Deputy Cooper had a good enough grip on Lee, Deputy Pearson took over operation of the boat and brought it closer to the bank.
“Deputy Cooper, recognized Lee could be crushed between the boat and the rocky bank, and he jumped over the side of the boat and into the water retaining a grip on Lee,” said Lt. Neil Pearson.
Placing himself at risk, Deputy Cooper, jumped waist deep into the swift river water, all while holding onto Lee, who was unconscious.
“Deputy Cooper was able to pull Lee up to the edge of the river bank and onto his lap while still seated in the water.” Said Lt. Neil Pearson, “He kept Lee’s head and upper body above the water, until fire personnel and medics took over.”
Lee was transported to Colusa Regional Medical Center and later flown by air ambulance to Enloe Hospital for medical treatment.