Dane Entze and his wife Kristen of Elk Ridge, Utah were on their way home after celebrating their anniversary when they encountered a situation that would turn a stranger’s life around.
They had just spent the weekend at Lava Springs, which was an hour south of Idaho Falls, when they witnessed a car speeding down a boat ramp and into the river.
The couple was driving by Idaho Falls, Idaho to a relative’s home to pick up their children. Passing through a bridge, Kristen was startled to see the speeding car plunge into the water from the boat ramp below.
Dane quickly drove to the car as his wife called 911. As he neared the boat ramp, he got off their car, scaled a wire face, and ran over the canal and to the boat launch.
As the vehicle began to slip into the river, Dane saw a woman leave the car and start swimming. Dane recalled, “I immediately asked if she was OK and whether there was anyone else in the car. She replied, ‘I’m committing suicide and there is no one else in the car, I don’t want to live anymore.’”
Not wanting to live anymore, the woman did not attempt to swim to Dane. Instead, she swam deeper and farther into the cold river and away from the beach. Her energy was waning, however, and despite her resolve, the 36-year-old Dane was determined to pursue her.
The weather at that time was at 19 degrees, but Dane called out to the woman and told her, “I don’t know who you are, but I’m here and I love you and I’m going to help you.”
YouTubeDane was so focused on rescuing her that he ignored her request to leave him alone. She didn’t have the strength to fight him, and he said, “At that point, I threw off my jacket and jumped into the river. Once I got to her, I told her my name and I said I was going to help her out. I put my arms around under hers and began making our way back through the thin layer of ice to the shore where another gentleman had arrived who helped me pull her to safety.”
His wife was ready with blankets, and they all sat close together as they waited for the arrival of the Idaho Falls fire and police departments. Dane was particularly concerned that they had little time to save the woman.
He stated, “I knew we were out of time. She was freezing cold and had no more strength. When she started further out into the river, it was clear the situation was going to get much more serious. I wanted her to get out safely.”
The couple only left when the first responders arrived, so they could finally pick up their children. Two hours later, they drove back to the scene to check on the situation, but the area had already been cleared.
The unexpected ordeal made the couple think of their own lives. Dane reflected, “I guess I was caught up in the woes and struggles in my own life that I had forgotten that there are people who are really struggling with internal battles that aren’t always easy to see on the outside.”
He added “I think people, including myself, need to simply be nice to those around us. We all have different beliefs, opinions, ideologies, passions, and pains, but we are all on the same journey and we will all have a hard time at some point. I did not choose to be in this position, but I was there at the right time.”
Other members of the family have helped people with challenges in their lives as well. At some point, Dane’s father was a volunteer for a hotline specifically for people struggling with their mental health and thinking of ending their lives.
He said, “I’ve learned, however, that mental challenges may start small and gradually grow to this nagging monster that may leave a person feeling so helpless and alone that they don’t think there is anywhere for relief.”
Dane received plenty of praise for his bravery that day. In a statement, the Idaho Falls Fire Department said, “We would like to express our gratitude to the individual who risked their own life to safe another. We are incredibly thankful both parties involved were able to make it out of the freezing water safely.”
Dane has since spoken to the woman’s family and hopes to meet them soon. In these challenging times, there are still Good Samaritans willing to put their lives on the line for others and say “I love you” to someone who needs to hear those words the most.
Watch Dane’s story below:
Help is available: If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 988 to reach the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. You can also call the network, previously known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.