Two Bismarck contractors save 96-year-old WWII veteran from icy river

Published: Feb. 29, 2020 at 5:45 PM CST
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Burleigh County Sheriff's Department says a man fell into icy water on the Missouri River Friday afternoon. Two Bismarck contractors are now being called heroes after saving a 96-year-old man from drowning.

For Robert Brendel and David Teal, Friday was just like any day on the job site.

The home they were putting shingles on Misty Waters Marina turned into new layer of life.

Brendel says he turned off the radio to order more supplies when they heard something.

"All of a sudden I heard somebody screaming for help and I told Robert: 'listen' and heard it again. So, that's when we jumped into action and took off," said contractor, David Teal.

The pair jumped out of their work truck and went to the shoreline where they found an older man struggling in the water.

"It was just adrenaline kicked in and just trying to get him out of (the river), you know. Fast and out before, you know, more ice broke or anything like that; Get him in, get him warmed up and just call the ambulance," said contractor, Robert Brendel.

While David Teal called for help, Brendel went after the man who they later found out was a 96-year-old, World War II veteran.

Broadcastify audio: Dispatch: "Squad 4, they're going to be at the public boat dock not the one inside the marina. They're going to be at the public boat dock." Squad 4: "Copy, thank you."

Brendel says he dragged the man out of the water, warmed him up until first responders could arrive and transport the man. Owner of American Resurfacing says he's so proud of his crew.

"A lot of people talk about doing stuff like that but these guys actually do it...It's pretty cool," said American Resurfacing Inc. owner, Scott Olson.

Olson says their not-so-average work day is like a roof on a home, protecting those around them.

It's unclear how long the 96-year-old spent in the frigid water. We're told the man is doing okay and recovering. He wasn't ready to go on camera but told the contracting crew his goal is to live to 100 years old and wasn't ready to leave just yet.

The crew joked about going on a fishing trip in the future. The owner of American Resurfacing says if the two get to take the man on a fishing trip, they'll have a paid day off.