"I told her, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I’m here, and I love you, and I’m going to help you,’" Dane said.
Content warning: The following content contains descriptions of suicide, and mental health challenges, which may be distressing to some readers.
Dane Entze and his wife had just returned from an anniversary weekend break when the couple's selflessness changed the life of a total stranger. The 36-year-old from Elk Ridge, Utah, has received praise for his bravery after plunging into a chilly river on November 12 to save a woman who was attempting to take her life. "My wife Kristen and I had just spent the weekend at Lava Hot Springs about an hour south of Idaho Falls," Dane told FOX.
The couple was making their way to the residence of their relatives to pick up their kids. They were driving by Idaho Falls, Idaho, where they went on their first date. Amazingly, it would be the setting of another moment that changed a person's life. Dan's wife was abruptly startled to see a car speeding down the boat ramp and into the water as she looked down from the bridge above to the boat ramp below.
Dane stated that while his wife called 911, he drove to get closer to the car. Dane got out of his car because he said he couldn't get close to the boat ramp with it. He pulled into the spot where they were, jumped out, scaled the barbed wire fence, sprinted over the canal, and then went to the boat launch.
Dane witnessed the vehicle slipping into the river's treacherous undertow. He then observed a woman exit the vehicle and begin swimming toward land. "I immediately asked if she was OK and whether there was anyone else in the car," he said. "She replied, ‘I’m committing suicide and there is no one else in the car, I don’t want to live anymore.’"
The woman allegedly told Dane that she didn't want to live and that she would not swim to him. She then began to swim farther into the chilly river and away from the beach, but her energy was waning. Dane decided to pursue her at that point. The temperature outside was 19 degrees. "I told her, ‘I don’t know who you are, but I’m here and I love you and I’m going to help you,’" Dane said.
The woman expressed that she wanted to be alone since she didn't have the strength to fight him, but he ignored her requests. "At that point, I threw off my jacket and jumped into the river. Once I got to her, I told her my name and I said I was going to help her out. I put my arms around under hers and began making our way back through the thin layer of ice to the shore where another gentleman had arrived who helped me pull her to safety," he said.
His wife had blankets ready for him close by. Before the arrival of the Idaho Falls fire and police departments, they were all packed together. Dane was aware that he had little time to save the victim. "I knew we were out of time. She was freezing cold and had no more strength," he continued. "When she started further out into the river, it was clear the situation was going to get much more serious. I wanted her to get out safely."
After the first responders arrived, the couple left back on their way to pick up their kids, but this experience caused Dane and his wife to reflect on their own lives. "I think people, including myself, need to simply be nice to those around us. We all have different beliefs, opinions, ideologies, passions, and pains, but we are all on the same journey and we will all have a hard time at some point. I did not choose to be in this position, but I was there at the right time," he shared.
Dane's own father was a volunteer for a suicide helpline and he shares that he knows many individuals who have struggled with mental health challenges. "I’ve learned, however, that mental challenges may start small and gradually grow to this nagging monster that may leave a person feeling so helpless and alone that they don’t think there is anywhere for relief," he said.
If you are having thoughts about taking your own life, or know of anyone who is, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)