The hero who rescued a kayaker fighting for his life in a raging torrent in Alaska knew he was taking a big risk when he jumped in to save the man.
“He was fighting and struggling a lot and it was not a fight that he was going to win on his own,” said Obadiah Jenkins, who was celebrating his 33rd birthday at the time.
The heart-stopping drama began when the kayaker, Daniel Hartung, flipped into the waters of Six-Mile Creek. As the kayak was swept away, he was pinned to a submerged tree and the river rose around him.
Other kayakers managed to get a rope to him, but the 64-year-old was jammed.
As he fought off the water, he eventually grew tired and went under. That's when Jenkins made a heroic move.
“I just said there was no time left, and I jumped in,” he recalled.
His desperate gamble paid off, and he was able to pull Hartung from the waters. The victim, however, was not breathing.
“I looked in his face and he was dead,” Jenkins recalled.
Once they returned to the shore, rescuers gave him CPR and he woke up.
Jenkins admitted that he tried to rally the unconscious victim with a little birthday humor.
“I was yelling at him," he recalled. "I was egging him on: ‘You're not gonna die today. You’re not going to ruin my birthday. He came back and that was the best birthday present I’ve ever gotten in my life.”
Incredibly, Hartung suffered only a broken rib and some bruises. He hails Jenkins as a “true hero,” saying that at one point, "I just realized I was not going to get out of this."