Stockton woman hailed in drowning man’s dramatic rescue

The Record (Stockton)December 25, 2013 

— Police hailed a young woman as a hero after she and her parents helped rescue an elderly man who fell into the water and was struggling to stay afloat Monday night near the guest dock at Stockton’s Village West Marina.

Natalie Craig, 20, was leaving the marina after watching Christmas movies on her parents’ houseboat when she heard someone crying for help. Craig quickly alerted her mother, Suzanne, an off-duty Port of Stockton police officer, and her father, Terry, an off-duty San Jose police officer.

Craig’s mother called 911 while she and her father located the victim, a man in his 70s who said he couldn’t keep his head above water any longer. After helping the man reach the stern of his boat, Craig threw the man a life vest while her father held onto his left arm.

“I’m just glad that I was there at the right time,” Craig said. “I can’t imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t heard him calling for help. I’m glad I was there with my parents. They’re very good people to have around in an emergency.”

Craig then waved down responding police officers, who helped her father pull the man out of the water. The victim was cold, having trouble breathing and showing signs of hypothermia, but he was in stable condition when he was taken to a hospital, Craig’s father said.

“The quick action of Natalie and her parents saved this man’s life,” said Officer Joe Silva, a spokesman for Stockton police. “Not only did the family call for help, they held onto the man so he could not drown and reassured him he was going to be OK until help arrived.”

It was unclear how the victim fell into the water and how long he had been there.

The man thanked Craig and her parents repeatedly after he was rescued, they said. Craig said she was happy to help.

“I’m sure he has a family, and it would have been terrible for them to lose him right before Christmas,” she said. “I’m just glad he’s safe and that he will probably get to spend the holiday with his family.”

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