Without the help of Robin Spencer and Jamie Olson, Hillary Svanoe may not be around to tell her chilling story.
Spencer and Olson were honored Thursday by the South Lake Tahoe Police Department for their quick response and good citizenship.
On March 8, the two heard distant screams for help from their Al Tahoe neighborhood.
After an exhaustive search, the two called 911, which brought out four police cars, a fire truck and an ambulance. The search team eventually discovered 22-year-old Svanoe waist-deep in the icy waters of the Upper Truckee River – she’d been calling for help for roughly two and a half hours.
“I reached down to pull my dog out of the water and the snow bank collapsed under me,” Svanoe said. “The bank was too high to pull myself out, and the water was too deep to wade across to the other side.”
Spencer and Olson were surprised to learn the screams had come from more than a mile away – near the Tahoe Keys Marina.
“I kept thinking people eating at the Fresh Ketch would hear me screaming,” Svanoe said. “I guess the wind carried the sound in the other direction.”
Although Svanoe was treated in the ambulance and released, “the consensus among rescue personnel was if these two hadn’t called the police, she may have perished,” said Cmdr. Brad Bennett. “We credit their quick response for saving the life of the victim.”
“From her screams, she sounded so alone and helpless out there – we were worried each time she stopped screaming,” Olson said. “What bothered us was that our neighbors didn’t seem to care. If you don’t want to get involved you can always call anonymously. Imagine if it was your mother, father or friend out there.”
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