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Taking the Plunge

Taking the Plunge
Caroline Purtell

Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Sept. 2, Brian Doherty was driving along the northwest side of Indianapolis when a white flower delivery van ahead of him swerved off the road into a retention pond.

Doherty, a 1994 graduate, immediately pulled over, removed his suit coat and dove into the water to save the van’s driver, 57-year-old Michael Bates, who police later determined suffered a diabetic seizure. Two other bystanders joined him, and what they thought would be a quick rescue operation turned into something much more complicated.

A bewildered Bates was uncooperative, the doors wouldn’t open, and as they were attempting to pull him from the open driver’s side window, the van began to sink into the 20-foot-deep water. Fortunately, they were able to unbuckle Bates’ seatbelt underwater and break through the back window to pull him out before the van became completely submerged.

To show his appreciation, Bates nominated Doherty and his fellow rescuers to the Indiana Red Cross Hall of Fame. Since then, they’ve exchanged Christmas cards and phone calls.

“Without the teamwork, he would not have made it,” Doherty says. “It was scary seeing somebody who was in such trouble, and we were not sure if we were going to be able to save him. It serves as a wake up call to appreciate life and the special little moments life offers.”

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