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Teen rescues an 83-year-old man and his dog after their car plunges into icy lake

'I want to thank the people who helped and the store that took the dog in and dried him off,' Lee said.

Teen rescues an 83-year-old man and his dog after their car plunges into icy lake
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Wikstrom, Jeppe

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 10, 2023. It has since been updated.

Thanks to an Iowa teen and four other men, an elderly man and a dog were rescued after their jeep plunged into a local lake. The 83-year-old man, Thomas Lee, along with his dog Cooper was going to his son-in-law's fishing shack around 3 pm when his car fell into East Okoboju Lake, as reported by PEOPLE. According to a press release from the Dickinson County Sheriff's Office, Lee and Cooper "went through the ice" under the Highway 71 bridge. Joe Salmon, 17, was ice fishing and watching snowmobile races when he witnessed the jeep plunging into the water. He first called 911 and then he jumped into the icy water to rescue Lee and Cooper.


"I took one step and [the water] went to about my chest," Salmon said. "I got on the bumper of the rear and tried opening the back door, but all the windows were locked, but one guy gave me a knife and I hit the back glass a couple of times." He broke the glass and was able to bring out Cooper safely. However, Lee couldn't get out as his foot was stuck between the seats and the center console," said Salmon. So Salmon had to pull the console up to release him. He got stuck once more, but after which, he was able to bring him out.



"I want to thank the people who helped and the store that took the dog in and dried him off," Lee said, as reported by Des Moines Register. The four other men were Corey McConnell, 30, Kody Harrelson, 26, Cody Chester, 27, and Chris Parks, 27. They assisted in the rescue. The sheriff's office post said that the group of men helped with pulling out Lee and Cooper as their car sank to the bottom of the lake. 


A rescue video was also posted on Facebook by Drone Photographs by Tom Gustafson. The video shows Lee and Cooper being pulled out from the Jeep one by one. According to reports, the lake is about 3 to 4 feet deep where the vehicle fell. A nearby business called the Okoboji Store gave all five men and the teenager space to dry themselves after the accident. Later on, Lee was sent to Lakes Regional Healthcare in Spirit Lake, according to the DCSO. They added that both the dog and the man are "doing well." Salmon was treated at the scene for the minor cuts he got from the glass, but otherwise, he had no other injuries. He was also given dry clothing from Okoboji Store before he went back to ice fishing. "I'm happy that he was okay and the dog was okay," Salmon said. "It was just crazy at the time. I've never done anything like that."

Moreover, during the rescue, Salmon lost his shoes in the lake, so the Okoboji High School boys' track team requested Nike to replace the shoes. Though, they haven't received a response yet. However, ESPN's Marty Smith wants to send a pair of Jordans for Salmon. Even the Track Guy Foundation had an offer for the teenager.

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