PORTERDALE -- Porterdale Police Department Lt. Jason Cripps is being hailed as a hero after he saved a drowning man from the turbulent and frigid waters of the Yellow River Wednesday afternoon.
According to a press release from PPD Public Information Officer Investigator Doug Clifton, the harrowing episode began around 12:30 p.m., when a call was received that a man had jumped into the river near the Ga. Highway 81 bridge in the center of town, just south of the Porterdale Lofts complex.
Cripps was dispatched to the scene and arrived within seconds, along with Clifton and Chief Geoff Jacobs.
"Lt. Cripps discovered that a local man had jumped into the river. The man, believed to be approximately 60 years old, managed to shout to the lieutenant that he could not swim," Clifton said, adding that the man was known to Cripps and he knew he had a history of mental illness.
"Keep in mind that the air temperature was 50 degrees, the water temperature was estimated to be approximately 40 degrees and (the victim) was wearing only underpants," he said.
Officers observed that very quickly the man was no longer flailing around and was becoming confused, unresponsive and appeared to display the symptoms of hypothermia.
"It was at this point that Lt. Cripps, who had already taken off his gun belt and K9 harness, entered the water, swam out approximately 50 feet to meet the man in the cold water on the dam side of the bridge," Clifton said. "He was able to pull the man to safety."
The Newton County Fire Department arrived almost immediately, and the man was transported to Newton Medical Center where he will be treated and evaluated, Clifton said.
"Lt. Cripps refused any medical treatment. He went home to change clothes and returned to work to finish his shift," Clifton said.