Thawville man rescues man from river
KANKAKEE — Joseph Earl was on a fishing date with his fiancée at Fisherman’s Park when a Chevrolet Cavalier pulled up on the sandy shore.
“We were just fishing for some catfish. The car pulled up. I told my old lady, ‘Oh, hey, another fisherman,’” the 30-year-old Thawville man recalled. “The next thing I know, she is yelling, ‘Honey, the car is going into the water.’”
The car plunged into the Kankakee River and started floating downstream at 4:33 p.m. Earl jumped in and made his way to the vehicle, while his 5-month-pregnant fiancée, Jessi Martin, called 911 and ran up the roadway to flag people down for help.
As Earl approached the vehicle, the man started moving. Earl got him to crawl to the back of the vehicle. Together, they forced the rear driver’s side door open and made their way back to shore.
“The front end was sitting down when I got there. The rear end was up with the back window open,” Earl said. “It was sinking fast. Water started rushing in. That’s when we started pulling the door open.
“I’m mind-boggled right now.”
Capy. Darin Loy, of the Kankakee Fire Department, said the man who was rescued reportedly had threatened to harm himself before he arrived at Fisherman’s Park. The man was taken to Riverside Medical Center in stable condition.
“I’m glad somebody was around to do something about it,” Loy said. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Earl said he still was feeling an adrenaline rush while he was wrapped in a coat and taking pictures of the vehicle being towed from the water.
He was looking forward to telling his 4-year-old and 2-year-old sons, as well as his 9-month-old daughter about the rescue.
“I’m just happy the man is alright,” he said. “That’s the most important thing.”
With their child set to be born in October, Martin also is looking forward to sharing Earl’s heroics.
“Joey is amazing,” she said. “We are about to have a baby boy. To be able to tell our son how brave his dad was and how our date turned into saving someone’s life is incredible.”