5 awarded for braving Ala Wai to save life
The group of men was able to rescue the driver of an overturned truck
Last June, Jim Crites jumped willingly into the Ala Wai Canal.
"That alone should get an award," joked Honolulu police Capt. Jeff Richards.
Crites and four other good Samaritans flipped an overturned truck in the canal to save an unconscious man from drowning.
All five men were given the Honolulu Police Department's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Valor, in recognition of the rescue June 9.
"I knew he wasn't going to make it upside down in the water, and odds are he'd be unconscious," Crites said yesterday at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.
"Before he even stopped, I jumped in the water and started doing what we had to do," Crites said.
Crites, Ben Duffy, Blake Harrison, Reuben Silva and Eddie Weight were all honored for rescuing the 57-year-old driver, who became unconscious in his car because of a medical condition.
The men were able to cut open the man's seat belt and retrieve him before the truck took in too much water.
When asked how it was jumping into the Ala Wai, infamous for its bacteria and debris, Crites said, "I grew up on the Potomac, so it's like almost the same. But you don't think about that, honestly. All you think about is someone needs help."
Crites and Silva were the only men who attended yesterday's ceremony. The two said they have not been in contact with the man.
"I hope his family enjoys that he's still here because of our actions," Silva said.
Silva said he does not feel totally comfortable being called a hero, doing something he did not even think twice about.
"I just hope that somebody would do the same thing to me if I was in that predicament," he said.
Also honored were:
» Keala Loo, a federal firefighter recruit who apprehended a theft suspect in Waikiki. He was awarded the Certificate of Merit.
» Officer Erik Yamane as employee of the quarter for his arrests involving sexual assault, a fugitive wanted in Indiana, copper thefts and drugs.
» The department's finance division as unit of the quarter for quickly learning the city's new accounting system.