Fresno Airman Goes into Lifesaving Mode
By Senior Master Sgt. Chris Drudge, 144th Fighter Wing
/ Published January 31, 2016
FRESNO AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Calif. -- Senior Master Sgt. Jeff Ginther, 144th Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment Superintendent, was returning to the Fresno Air National Guard Base July 29, 2015 when he witnessed a terrible accident.
Kou Thor of Fresno, had lost control of his vehicle while trying to avoid hitting a bicyclist crossing in the middle of the road on McKinley Ave. His vehicle swerved, jumped the curb and ended up submerged in an irrigation canal.
Ginther immediately put his vehicle in park and went into action. While the 12 to 15 bystanders were videotaping the incident on their cell phones, Sgt. Ginther wasted no time and jumped into the swift moving water.
"The water was moving a lot faster than I was expecting," said Ginther. "The training I've received from the Air Force really helped me to do the right thing." Senior Master Sgt. Ginther is a water survival instructor for the Aircrew Flight Equipment section at the 144th.
The driver was still in the vehicle when Ginther swam up. "(The driver) had a look on his face that I'll never forget and I knew at that moment that I was doing the right thing," added Ginther.
There was another individual also in the water trying to assist in the rescue. That individual, Paul Alley, also from Fresno, was trying to get the door open and get to Thor. As soon as the door was opened and Thor exited the submerged vehicle, both he and Alley went under. Ginther approached the two and got them to the canal bank.
Once back up on the canal bank, Thor was checked over by medical personnel, but refused any further treatment. Alley and Ginther were both uninjured during the rescue.
"The Air National Guard is here, whether it is in combat or peacetime, to help our fellow citizens," said Ginther. "I feel extremely humbled to be given this situation to pay back the community for all they do for us."