.

Severn River Rescuer: 'Somebody Had to Help'

One of the two men who saved a bridge jumper's life on Wednesday tells Patch what went through his head during the rescue.

A volunteer firefighter from Pasadena heroically rescued . He told Patch how shocked he was to see the man jump off the Severn River Bridge before his instincts took over.

Joe Horton, 28, of Pasadena is a Prince George's County volunteer firefighter and EMT. Horton and Fred Kelly, the head of the Severn Riverkeeper Program, met for the first time on the river, while trying to save Steven Anderson, who jumped from the bridge.

Horton said he read Patch's story about Wednesday afternoon's rescue, and wanted to give his perspective of the event. What follows is his narrative of what happened.

Me and my brother had been working and were driving across Route 50 on the bridge, and I saw the vehicles slow down. I thought, ‘Oh maybe somebody had a flat tire.' Then I see this guy get out of his car, and went over to the wall, swung his legs over the bridge and just jumped off.

It's, you know, 250 or 300 feet. It's a significant drop. I saw him jump off, and you know, you’re in such shock. The first thing I did was I contemplated jumping off after him, but realized that’s probably not the brightest idea. I looked down and I saw him down there, and he was moving his arms like he was treading water. I could see his arms flailing. So I was trying to use my skills, and figure out how to get to the guy.

So I ran across the bridge, with all these cars coming at me with my brother following behind me, and there was a fence 8-9 feet high. I jumped over that, went down a steep hill, and got down there to where the beach area is. I saw a boat thinking I could commandeer that. So, I banged on these people's house, but then the guy came out and said the boat hadn’t run in two years.

So I said, somebody had to help this guy. Obviously he wasn’t stopping for a scenic view. I told my brother I was going to swim out there to him. My brother said, ‘You’re crazy.’

I took all my clothes off except my boxers, because I didn’t want to be weighed down in the water. Left my clothes right there on the beach. At the time I thought it was a pretty warm day, so it might not be that cold. But by the time I got out there, it was so cold that I could barely move. I swam out there, got about 20 or 30 feet out and realized that I could probably get to the guy, but was worried about what I’d do once I got to him. So, I turned around and came back.

Then I saw there was a canoe and a kayak, off to the side. It didn’t look like it had been used in five years or so. So I just grabbed the kayak and threw it down on the beach, and there was a paddle inside. I jumped in there and went ballistic with that paddle to get out there to the guy. By the time I got out there, there was a boat, it turned out to be [the Severn Riverkeeper] Fred Kelly. He had come out there because his grandson was on the bridge and saw the guy jump. So he had called his grandfather.

Fred was grabbing the guy by his sweatshirt, but the guy weighed like 270 pounds or something, and I was still in the kayak, and there was no way he was getting the guy in the boat alone, and I couldn’t get close enough to the boat because of the current. We were both fighting the current. So I jumped out of the kayak and managed to get up into the boat. I just sort of bear-hugged the guy underneath his arms, and Fred grabbed him by his belt and pulled him into the boat.

Then we got him in, and I’m an EMT, so I turned his head to the side and got most of the water out of his mouth and started CPR right away, and he hauled off to the pier. Me and Fred were able to get him off the boat onto the pier, and I got off and started CPR again and that’s when the fire department arrived.

Horton and Kelly were separated once the ambulance arrived, and Horton was treated for hypothermia. He said he lost contact with Kelly until after the incident was over. Later, he looked the riverkeeper up online and gave him a call. The two met for drinks to talk about the day's adventure.

"He's a really neat guy, and I'm glad I met him," Horton said of Kelly. "I don't know what I'd have done if it was just me out there alone, and I don't know what he'd have done without me there. It's just one of those things that worked out, like a textbook operation."

Anderson was listed in stable condition at Anne Arundel Medical Center on Wednesday evening, according to Maryland State Police Cpl. David Johnson.

John Frenaye March 08, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Awesomeness!
jesse55jp March 08, 2012 at 02:59 PM
This guy did an awesome job.
Christy Roberts March 08, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Nice work! Hope the guy who jumped feels better and appreciates the second chance these guys gave him. I know the folks who care about him do.
MAW March 08, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Good job Joe and Fred!!!!
Jennifer March 08, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Joe you are brave and self-less. What a heroic act you did!
Dan March 08, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Great story... I hope the jumper can take in the actions of Joe and Fred and translate their sense of responsibility for others into motivation for his own life's mission moving forward.
lindsay turner March 09, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Its always humbling to hear a story like this because it reminds us all what life is about and valuing our fellow neighbor even if a stranger!
R.T. Klamm March 09, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Great response time Fred ! And as they say Down Under Joe "Good On Ya !" and every bit as important I want to thank you for recounting what took place. Your story demonstrates the importance of critical thinking during a period of split second decision making. Not only did you respond to the aid of an individual in distress but you thought through the situation in real time sufficiently to minimize the potential of the rescuer becoming a casualty. I'm proud to know you Joe.
Tina by the Bay March 09, 2012 at 02:35 PM
To Joe and Fred: I borrowed Larry the Cable Guy's line to say: "Guys like you make America great!" You remind me that there are people who do care and there is hope for humanity after all. I do hope that the jumper will be able to recover in body, mind and spirit.
Kevin Brennan March 09, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Great job!! Pure selflessness!! Thank you for what you do!
John Holmes March 09, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Now that's a HERO for ya'
Scammed March 10, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Look this guy's name up on google and you will see a different picture. He may be a hero here, but . . .
Peanut Blue March 11, 2012 at 04:32 AM
The guy doesn't feel better appreciated. He has passed on from this life. He was a kind man but had some medical challenges. Thanks to the men who possessed the fortitude and bravery to assist.
jim March 13, 2012 at 05:08 AM
wow, how could you try to diminish this selfless act. pretty petty!
Truth Without Fear March 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Here's the real story on Joe Horton. http://www.oag.state.md.us/Press/2011/051211a.html http://www.hometownannapolis.com/news/top/2012/03/14-26/Ex-locksmith-who-tried-to-save-bridge-jumper-gets-time-for-theft.html
D. Frank Smith (Editor) March 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM
The "real" story? Are you implying that he didn't jump in the river to save a guy's life? Anyway, we have information on Horton's background here, if anyone was interested: http://broadneck.patch.com/articles/bridge-hero-gets-time-for-theft
classified February 07, 2014 at 04:17 PM
i never said he was crazy i said he was brave for what he was about to do. he made me stand that and watch when i could have been helping. he lied about what i said. i am his brother by the way

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something