For Porterdale Police Lt. Jason Cripps, jumping into the Yellow River to save a man's life was just part of his job, but for the family of 60-year-old Earl Young, he went above and beyond the call of duty Wednesday afternoon.
Cripps was at work to cover a shift for a fellow officer when he received news that someone was standing on the bridge next to the Porterdale Mill Lofts and appeared to be preparing to jump into the icy water. Cripps said people have reported jumpers several times over the last five years and when the police arrive, no one is there. But he was headed out to check anyway when dispatch called around 12:30 p.m. and said a passerby had witnessed a man in his underwear and flip-flops dive into the water. Cripps, along with Investigator Douglas Clifton and Chief Geoff Jacobs rushed to the scene.
At first, they saw nothing, and then Cripps said he heard Young. As he watched the man float into the middle of the river on the loft side, his hands were starting to claw up and his body was starting to pull into a fetal position.
"All of a sudden, he just rolled over like an apple," Cripps said. Wasting no time, he radioed that he was going in, and made his way into the 40 degree water, swimming into the middle to grab the man and haul him to shore.
"He kept saying, ‘Just let me go,'" Cripps said Thursday. "And I told him that wasn't happening on my watch."
Young is known to the police and according to Cripps once threatened to "Kill him, chop him up and bury him by the river."
"I said to the chief, how ironic is it that this is a man who threatened to kill me and bury me right out here?"
Although Cripps said he was just doing his job, Young's sister Elaine Conley said he's a hero in her eyes.
"I thank the little guy a lot because he did risk his life jumping in that river there to save my brother. Yesterday morning, I had a bad feeling and when I was talking to the little officer at the hospital and I told him that and he said that it was supposed to have been his day off, I think it was just meant for him to be there. He didn't have to jump in that river, but I'm sure thankful he did!"