Community Heroes: Police Officer, Deputy Rescued 2 Boaters from Snake River


Police officers encounter dangerous situations on a daily basis, but sometimes they go the extra mile and put themselves in harm’s way for the wellbeing of the citizens they serve and protect.

For this installment of KLEW Community Heroes, two local officers went above and beyond their duties, in a situation where every second counts.

September 10th, around 2:30 a.m. a call came in to the dispatch center. "The call was noises coming from the river. A possible drowning," said Asotin County Sheriff’s Deputy, Danny Vargas.

He and Clarkston Police Officer, Tom Sparks rushed to Chestnut Beach, where they saw an overturned boat, and two people clinging to the side. "We were trying to locate where they were in they were in the water because it was so dark. Once we found them we began giving them verbal instructions," recounted Deputy Vargas.

But the officers realized almost immediately how severe the situation had become. "Neither one of them were willing to let go of the boat. I don't think either one of them could swim," said Officer Sparks. They tried throwing flotation devices out but to no avail. "One of the gentlemen on the boat looked at us and said he couldn't go anymore. So that's when officer sparks decided it was time to swim out there," Said Deputy Vargas.

They knew if they waited for a rescue boat, the two people might not make it. "We knew what we had to do, and we had to do it. It was now or never. We just jumped in and acted like anybody else probably would do," said Officer Sparks. They dove into the Snake River and swam. "From there we just kind of grabbed on to it and it was a small boat. We just kind of tag teamed, pulled it into shore," they said.

The officers were able to save the two men. This week, they were honored by Clarkston City Council for their willingness to go above and beyond in saving a life. But both officers say. They were just doing their job. "It's just something that we get paid to do. But I appreciate it a lot. It's a good feeling," said Officer Sparks. "We're in the business and a lot of times you don't get recognized for what you do, so when you are, it's a good feeling," said Deputy Vargas.

Officer Sparks and Deputy Vargas say the rescue wouldn't have been possible without their fellow officers as well as Clarkston Fire Department who assisted them in saving those lives.

To nominate someone for KLEW Community Heroes, email with their name and description of why you think they are a hero.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off