Burleigh County deputies recognized for rescuing woman from Missouri River

Published: Jan. 22, 2020 at 8:51 PM CST
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Three Burleigh County deputies received the Legion of Honor award for rescuing a woman from the Missouri River in September.

On Sept. 4 at 2:30 a.m., Bismarck and Burleigh County law enforcement were dispatched to the Missouri River to rescue a woman in the water..

Deputy Joe Gibbs, Deputy Joseph Walker and Cpl. Jeremy Alm took matters into their own hands when they jumped into the frigid water to rescue the unconscious woman.

A welfare check led police to a parking lot at Pioneer Park near the Missouri River.

"It was a calm night, I believe it was 36 degrees on the dash," said Gibbs.

Officers began scouring the park.

"We had an assist with Bismarck PD. They brought their K9 officer out and did a sniff of the vehicle and then followed a track to the shoreline where we were able to locate her," said Walker.

She was found 85 yards off the shore, floating in the water.

"Initial thought is watching her float on her back out there, her head began going under the water and she was coming up slower, and slower. We knew there was no time to wait for a boat, we had to go in," said Gibbs.

Without hesitation, Gibbs dove into the water.

"When I hit the water it took my breath away. It took a good second to catch my breath before I began swimming," said Gibbs.

His partner, Walker, was right behind him.

"If I had any hesitations, watching him go in first, at that point watching your partner go in there it's just like anything in law enforcement, you're there for your fellow officers," said Walker.

The two deputies swam to the woman and brought her back to shore, where Metro EMS worked to revive her.

Five months later, they're being recognized for their heroic actions.

"I don't really feel like I did enough to get an award. I don't really care about awards, I was just happy that we were able to get her out and she was able to make a full recovery," said Gibbs.

Both men say they would do it all over again.

"It's one of those things you act on, and you do it, and when things start to slow down you see what actions actually took place," said Walker.

Taking a leap of faith, risking their own lives to save others.

The deputies say the following morning they heard that the woman was going to make a full recovery.

They have not spoken with her since that night.