Eagle Grove man rescued from Des Moines River

Quick action by campers and a fast response from Humboldt Fire and Rescue and Humboldt EMS may have saved an Eagle Grove man’s life this evening.
The Humboldt Fire Department and Humboldt EMS and Ambulance were paged to Gotch Park shortly before 6:30 p.m. Sunday night. There was a report of a swimmer in the East Fork of the Des Moines River going above and below the water.
“We were floating down the river and the current got him and sucked him under. The current was too strong, so we got out and ran along the bank where we could get a stick to him,” said 16-year-old Maddox Konopasek of Eagle Gove. Maddox and his 19-year-old brother, Chance Konopasek, also of Eagle Grove, were among those who rescued the victim, who was identified as 21-year-old Latrell Word, also of Eagle Grove.
“I saw his head keep bobbing up and down. He was screaming for help, but in a panic, he would go under the water,” Chance Konopasek said.
“We sprinted along the (Three Rivers) trail to where we could get close to him. I gave him a stick and then he was able to grab my foot,” Chance reported.
Word was taller and more muscular than the Konopasek brothers.
Nate Klein and his wife, AJ, of Fort Dodge, were camping at the park. Nate’s uncle, Doug Davis of Humboldt, was also camping at Gotch Park.
“I saw him floating and saw he was in trouble so I ran back to the camp and told them to call 911,” Doug Davis said.
Nate said he and AJ were looking out the balcony from the cabin at the park.
“I knew I couldn't get to him from where we were at, so my wife and I rode our bikes over the footbridge on the trail and down to the bank. Nate Klein was able to lend assistance to get Word to the bank.
“He was on his back and was throwing up, so I turned him on his side and waited for the firemen and EMS crew to get there," N. Klein said.
It did not take emergency personnel long to locate Word. Emergency Medical Service workers joined Humboldt Fire and Rescue members in two boats and were able to bring the victim to the boat ramp at the park within 15 minutes of arrival.
Word was brought to shore and Humboldt County Memorial Hospital Ambulance reportedly transported him to Unity Point Health — Fort Dodge, Trinity Regional Medical Center. His condition is not known at this time. Humboldt Fire Chief Jim Gronbach said the victim was “somewhat responsive,” at the time of transport.
Emergency personnel on the scene were telling him to “hang in there.”
People on the scene said the ordeal was chilling, “but you do what you have to do in an emergency,” they said.
“It’s a good thing they took the dam out, or he would have been gone. I use to do a lot of fishing there and it was fast and swift,” Davis said.
AJ Klein said she and her husband just did what they could to help. “I have one boy and another on the way. I know if it was my child, I would want someone to help save him.”
Read more about this story in the July 2 Humboldt Independent.

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