Man recounts heroic jump into White River to save woman

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The man who jumped into the White River to save a woman on Thursday is talking about the dramatic rescue.

Keith Smedema was riding his bicycle along the river when the woman slipped and fell off the bridge.

“I was just coming up to the bridge, and I saw movement from the corner of my eye and heard a distinct plop,” said Smedema. “I said, ‘Do you need help?’ and she said ‘yeah, help, help!’ so I decided then to jump in and do what I could.”

Crews were called to the area near White River State Park, just south of the IUPUI campus Thursday afternoon.

Witnesses told Fox59 that the woman had been taking pictures and slipped. Smedema held the woman until crews could arrive.

“I hope and pray she’s doing okay,” Smedema said. “We spent some time in the water, so I talked to her a little bit. She seemed cognizant and aware.”

According to the Indianapolis Fire Department, the pair was stranded in water about four feet deep, on some sort of sandbar. The IFD Dive Team recovered them about eight minutes after their rescue boat got into the water.

Both were taken to area hospitals after being in the cold water. According to IFD, they both suffered from hypothermia.

“Many people would have done the same thing if they were in my shoes,” Smedema said. “I thought I could help her, so I didn’t really think about it, I just did it.”

But Smedema said the decision to jump didn’t come without some initial hesitation.

“I thought about not jumping, and then I didn’t think she would make it, because she was not doing well,” he said. “She was floundering. It didn’t look like she could swim, and I didn’t think I could sit there and watch her drown.”

The woman’s name has not been released, but Smedema said he’s hoping for the best. He thinks she should be fine, as long as she didn’t injure herself in the fall.


    • ellswen

      Glad not everyone feels the way you do, "Guest". To Mr. Smedema: your hesitation was quite understandable, but your conscience made the correct decision, and your selfless act was pure heroism. Society needs more like you. God bless!

    • Daniel Smedema

      Good thing my father is a strong and able swimmer who knew he could handle himself. I appreciate your concern. I'm happy to hear that you're glad he didn't end up becoming a victim himself!

  • Stephanie

    Such a selfless act…we do need more people like you in this world. You should be proud of your dad, Daniel. God bless!

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