Above the Call: Folsom Correctional Officer rescues injured man from lake

Folsom State Prison Correctional Officer Chris Sanders helped save an injured man who was stranded at Folsom Lake. His parents, David and Karen, are retired correctional officers.

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor

An off-duty correctional officer’s fishing trip at Folsom Lake ended up turning into a rescue operation.

After a day of boating and fishing, Folsom State Prison Correctional Officer Chris Sanders and his friend decided to head back to shore. The wind was picking up, the sun was setting and the temperature was dropping. As they made their way to the boat ramp, they spotted what they thought was an abandoned boat on a small island in the lake.

Officer Sanders said the decision to go out on the lake that particular day wasn’t planned. “It was a last-minute kind of thing,” he said.

“As they approached the boat, they saw an elderly man partially lying in the water. They immediately called 911 and pulled the man out of the water,” according to a CDCR report on the incident.

The officer and his friend freed the injured man, who was trapped in the water with his leg stuck on the boat.

The victim’s boat motor had failed, leaving the boat to the mercy of the wind and current, allowing it to end up on a small island. While trying to get out of the boat, the elderly man tripped and fell. His leg had gotten caught between the boat’s closed canvas top and the transom. When the officer found him, the man was lying in the water between the boat and the small island’s shore, his leg stuck in the boat.

“At first, I thought he was dead, floating in the water,” the officer recalls.

“He was pale and going into hypothermia,” the report states. “Officer Sanders quickly freed the man and started first aid measures for a lacerated arm and hypothermia.”

“We helped him remove his clothes and put on dry clothes,” said Officer Sanders. “We helped him get back into the boat also. He was weak and very cold. We had to lift him by his shoulders. He got in the boat and called his wife. I got my boat around to try to tow his. My friend stood on the shore line and rocked the (stranded) boat to get it off the rocks. Then we towed it all the way back.”

The injured man called his wife while Officer Sanders’ friend rocked the boat to get it off the rocks. Meanwhile, Officer Sanders had attached a line to tow the boat back to shore.

Sanders said it was dark by the time they returned to shore, probably close to 9:30 at night. As they approached the shore, they saw the man’s family waiting. A state park ranger arrived a short time later.

“The man was transported to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia, an injured ankle and a lacerated arm. Following the incident, the man had a mild heart attack caused by the stress. He has since completely recovered from his injuries,” according to the report. The incident happened in June 2016.

“His family was really concerned about him. They kept thanking us and trying to give us money but we declined. They did get our contact information. Later they let us know how he was doing and that he was doing better,” Officer Sanders said.

For Sanders, who started at CDCR in February 2015, working in a prison is in his blood – both of his parents are retired correctional officers. His father David retired in 2009 after 24 years and his mother Karen retired in 2016 after 29 years.

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24 Responses

  1. Kristina Smith Tuesday, February 14, 2017 / 9:44 am

    True hero and if it weren’t for people like you in the world we could all be lost. Brave and kind hearts are appreciated!

  2. C. Vfillela Saturday, February 11, 2017 / 11:40 pm

    A true hero.

  3. Daniel Dela Cruz Thursday, February 9, 2017 / 2:09 pm

    Way to go, bro!

  4. D.Haynes C.I.M. Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 3:34 pm

    Officer Sanders if there is any doubt in your mind that you didn’t do the right thing, just read all of these wonder posts. Many of them reference the power of Christ. Simply awesome……..

  5. Luz Davis CVSP Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 2:44 pm

    Officer Sanders, you and your friend were this man’s Guardian Angels! Father God had it planned for you to save this man’s life that day. He chose the both of you to bless this man and his family. What a wonderful gift. May God bless you and your friend.

  6. Tara Rooks Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    Great job, Officer Sanders! Your fishing trip may not have been planned by you, but certainly by a higher power.

  7. Lisa M. Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 8:52 am

    Awesome can begin to describe your actions. You are a true example of humanity at its finest.

  8. Lt. Y. Keehmer Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 7:27 am

    Your trip was not planned, but in the big scheme of things it actually was by a higher power, good call to check out the stranded boat, you were guadian angels that day………….God bless you guys

  9. Scott Lindley Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Awesome, God you put you at the right place and the right time.

  10. David Sanders Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    So proud of my son.

  11. Joe Kimsey- DVI Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 12:36 pm

    Chris, you are a great example of today’s Correctional Peace Officer and you have made your family very proud!

  12. J. Alexander` Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 11:28 am

    Good job, Sanders.

  13. Officer Rosales.R Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Good job, partner. You did a great job. I also went fishing on my day off and saved a man from drowning in a canal. He was fishing with his 16-year-old kid and slipped in to the canal. Glad we can be there at the right time. Good job, Chris!

    • Monica Miller Rosales Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 8:55 pm

      Hi brother! Dan told me he read your comment. Had to see it myself. I’m glad you guys were able to safe a life.

    • CSP-SAC Wednesday, February 8, 2017 / 12:26 pm

      I’m thankful for all the brave good hearted people like you.

  14. Brian Cox Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:55 am

    Great job young man, glad you were at the right place at the right time.

  15. Wanda Montano Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:53 am

    Officer Sanders, glad you followed your gut feeling and went to check out the situation. Maybe your fishing trip wasn’t planned, but some had it planned to have you and your buddies be his guardian angel. Bless your heart!

  16. Diana Viale Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:50 am

    Great Job Officer Sanders. It is good to know there are still people out there that wouldn’t think twice about helping someone in this type of situation. You and your friend are true heroes and should be very proud of yourselves.

  17. CSP-SAC Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:49 am

    God Bless you and your friend for helping someone in need. We need more people like you guys in this world. Thank you also for keeping us safe.

  18. geter.kawatha@cdcr.ca.gov Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:49 am

    Way to go Sanders. Each and everyday I see you, nothing but a large smile on your face. So I know if someone out there needs help, you won’t shy away. Really great job, possible saving
    a life is no small task. Tell your friend the same.

  19. Beverly Heroux Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:39 am

    Chris, I’m glad you were on the water that day, that man would have died. Great job, thank you and your friend for helping him. I’m proud of you! Beverly, say hi to your mom for me.

  20. Sandra M. Lafferty Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:23 am

    Chris Sanders & friend kudos to you both this was a great story to start my day.

  21. richard.larson Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:15 am

    officer Sanders you went fishing on the right day , you and your freind were sent there to help that man in need .

  22. Jane Rogan CDCR - C.I.W. Tuesday, February 7, 2017 / 9:15 am

    What a good way to start my day reading good stories like this one. God Bless Officer Sanders for your good deeds! Have a Blessed Day!

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