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Man who jumped into freezing river to save woman recalls harrowing rescue effort

Idaho Falls

IDAHO FALLS – Dane Entze never anticipated he’d be responsible for saving someone’s life when he and his wife drove into Idaho Falls Saturday morning.

The 36-year-old man from Elk Ridge, Utah jumped into the Snake River near John’s Hole Bridge after watching a woman drive her vehicle off the boat dock. A news release from the Idaho Falls Fire Department reports it happened around 10 a.m. and was a suicide attempt. A “Good Samaritan,” which EastIdahoNews.com learned was Entze, swam about 120 feet from the shore in freezing water to rescue the woman.

RELATED | Good samaritan saves woman from Snake River in Idaho Falls

In a conversation with EastIdahoNews.com, Entze says he’s grateful he happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“My wife and I both got emotional (when it was over). Just like everyone, we have struggles in life. To think about people being at their wit’s end, for whatever reason, gave us a lot of pause and we just wanted to go straight to our kids and hold them.”

Entze explains he and his wife, Kristen, were on their way to pick up their kids in Ammon that morning after celebrating their wedding anniversary.

As they got off Interstate 15, they drove past the area and noticed there was a car in the river.

“We were looking around and immediately called 911. We got off the exit on the other side of the bridge and circled back around,” Dane says. “I told my wife, ‘I’ve got to get out’ because there was no one there.”

He climbed over the barbed wire fence and ran across the canal and saw a woman swimming in the water. When the car started sinking, Dane says it somehow flushed her out and as he yelled out to her, she was “clearly distraught.”

“She said she wanted to die … and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t still in the car,” he says.

The woman apparently began working her way towards the shore as she told Dane about her struggles. When she was just a short distance away, she started heading back out into the river again.

Entze and his wife were familiar with this section of the river and knowing how dangerous it was, he jumped in to get her out.

“I tried to calculate and keep my head about me,” Entze says. “I got out to her and pulled her to the shore. At that point, another gentleman arrived and helped me pull her up.”

He and his wife grabbed blankets from their car, took off the woman’s coat and sweater and wrapped her up. He held her until EMTs arrived a minute or two later.

Katie Resendiz
The woman’s vehicle after it had been pulled out of the river. | Katie Resendiz

After stepping away, he realized how cold it was and he and his wife left to pick up their kids.

Entze says the entire ordeal only lasted 5-10 minutes, and he certainly wasn’t doing it for any recognition. He simply knew she was in trouble and acted because time was running out.

“She was slowing down and running out of steam. Even if she wanted to get on shore, she wasn’t going to be able to do it on her own,” he says. “In water like that, you can’t wait for EMTs to arrive.”

His heroic effort resulted in a happy ending.

EMS personnel took the patient to the hospital and were able to connect her with the resources she needs.

“We express our gratitude to the individual who risked their own life to save another. We are incredibly thankful both parties involved were able to make it out of the freezing water safely,” IFFD spokeswoman Kerry Hammon wrote in a news release Saturday.

Back home in Utah several days later, Dane’s thoughts are focused on the woman and others like her who struggle with mental health challenges.

Dane had a friend dealing with similar issues a few years ago and he’s glad he was able to rescue a woman in one of her darkest moments.

“When I talked to her (that day), I said, ‘I don’t know who you are but I’m here and I love you.’ The message I tried to get (across) to her is that ‘You’re not alone,'” he says. “There’s a lot of people out there who want to help … and I was just grateful to be there at that time to help her.”

WATCH OUR INTERVIEW WITH ENTZE IN THE VIDEO ABOVE.

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