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By Echo Menges
Knox County first responders saved a Knox City man from frigid water last week.
According to a Missouri State Highway Patrol Crash Report, Bryan K. Slings, 64, ran off of the roadway at the South Henry Sever Lake on Monday afternoon, January 30, 2023, at approximately 3:44 p.m. The lake is located off State Route E approximately seven miles south of Knox City, and three miles north of Newark.
Slings’ 2008 Cadillac CTS struck a tree before driving over an embankment and into the water.
“I circled through the lot, couldn’t see anything on this side. I swung over here and caught a glimpse of the car behind a tree on the edge of the water. I pulled my vehicle up and hopped out, because I couldn’t see a person. Once I got down to the water’s edge, I could see him sitting on the edge of the vehicle, and heard him talking on the phone with 9-1-1,” said Carol York, Newark Rural Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer.
York was the first to arrive at the scene. Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy David Fagin arrived shortly after.
The temperature at that time was roughly nine degrees fahrenheit with a “real feel” rating of only one degree.
“When I arrived, I met Carol. She led me down to the vehicle. I observed the driver hanging out of the back passenger window of the vehicle on the phone. He was about waist deep in water. As soon as we got a plan together, we got out there and got him out of the vehicle and up onto shore and into a warm vehicle,” said KCSO Deputy David Fagin.
The first responders estimated it took only 30 seconds for them to get into the water to rescue the stranded driver after arriving, and they spent between one and two minutes in the frigid water themselves.
“We were stripping him down, getting him out of the wet clothing, and getting (him) into a warm vehicle – trying to reverse the hypothermia that he was having,” said Fagin.
York and Fagin were assisted by NRVFD Fire Chief Scott York and Firefighter Ryan Rogers who arrived during the rescue and assisted from the shore.
“It took just a little bit of time to get him out of the window. His feet had been in the water so his feet were numb,” said York.
“He wasn’t moving very good by that time,” said Fagin.
Once the Knox County Ambulance District arrived and began treating Slings, the first responders began to take measures to prevent hypothermia themselves. Slings was later taken to Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL, by the KCAD. He was listed as having minor injuries.
First responders from MSHP, and the Missouri Department of Conservation also responded to the call.
It is unknown why Slings drove into the water.
“He stated he was pulling in here, and the next thing he knew – he was in the water,” said Fagin.
“He did about the best action he could. His upper torso was not wet that we could tell. He got himself up out of the water and onto the highest part of the vehicle. Only his feet and his lower legs were in the water,” said York.