Above the Call: Correctional Officer dives into river to try and save man

By Don Chaddock, Inside CDCR editor
Office of Public and Employee Communications

Correctional Officer Chris Peterson.

An off-duty correctional officer was enjoying a warm summer day on the river when he ended up trying to save another man’s life.

Folsom State Prison Officer Chris Peterson was boating on the San Joaquin River on June 12 when he came upon a man struggling in the water.

After ensuring the safety of his own family first, Officer Peterson then dove into the cold water to assist John Tran, a U.S. Postal Service employee and military veteran.

Tran was suffering a “cardiac event.” Officer Peterson pulled him from the water and got him to the river’s shore.

Performing an assessment of Tran’s vital signs, Officer Peterson “determined a medical response was needed and had Mr. Tran’s brother call 911,” according to a report of the incident.

Officer Peterson then performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for approximately 20 minutes without fail until the arrival of San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies and local fire department personnel.

Despite the officer’s efforts, Tran passed away at a local hospital. Officer Peterson then recovered Tran’s raft and belongings from the river and turned them over to Tran’s family.

“The quick actions of Officer Peterson to recover the unconscious Mr. Tran from a cold river with total disregard to his personal safety and performing CPR, and recovering personal items reflect great credit upon himself, CDCR and the State of California,” according to his supervisor, Sgt. Justin Hanley.


19 Responses

  1. T. Trimble Monday, August 14, 2017 / 8:41 am

    A true Hero ! God bless you.

  2. B. Sales Friday, August 11, 2017 / 9:15 am

    Great job! You are a hero!

  3. R. Lowe Tuesday, August 8, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    Great job Chris,

  4. C/O ROSALES,R JR. Thursday, August 3, 2017 / 2:16 pm


  5. Chaplain Lois Woodard Thursday, August 3, 2017 / 1:17 pm

    Dear Officer Peterson,
    Some people are called to go above and beyond the call of duty. It was good to hear of your heroic actions. May God’s blessings continue to be upon you and your family.
    May He bless and comfort the family during their great loss.

  6. Valerie Estrella Thursday, August 3, 2017 / 8:55 am

    What a hero!! Good job and I’m sorry for the family. I’m glad you were safe in the process.

  7. F. R. Mathiesen RN (CDCR) Thursday, August 3, 2017 / 7:51 am

    20 min of solo CPR is an exhausting effort. GREAT JOB in very rough circumstances. Thank you for being of service.

  8. valerie byrd Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 2:54 pm

    Courageous! effort on the part of Officer Peterson! Prayers to his family of Mr. Tran.

  9. Dee Nag Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 1:42 pm

    What a hero, proud of this guy. Big heart and unselfish, way to go Officer Peterson.

  10. J. Carrillo Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:44 am

    I’m certain that family will be forever grateful to Officer Peterson for his sustained efforts to give Mr. Tran the best possible opportunity to survive. Knowing someone did something selfless to try to help him in his time of dire need will alleviate their grief, which would be far greater if Mr. Tran had passed away alone while his family stood by watching helplessly.

  11. Diana Viale Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:27 am

    Chris, Great job, you are a true hero and I am proud you work for this department.

  12. Chikodi B. Okoro Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:25 am

    Thank you Officer Peterson for your compassion, courage, fast & unselfish action to help another person you did not know. DEFINITELY God will come to your aide in your time of need!! God bless you & your family.

  13. Aragon Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:23 am


  14. Karen Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:15 am

    You are truly a hero even though it did not end the way you hoped.

  15. C.M.Perlow Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:14 am

    Great job, Chris! (MCSP/MCIC)

  16. Suni Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 9:09 am

    I’m grateful there are selfless people like you!

  17. Jane Rogan CDCR - C.I.W. Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 8:38 am

    Although it was unfortunate that Mr. Tran didn’t live, kudos to Officer Peterson for doing all he can to save Mr. Tran’s life. God Bless you for your good deeds Officer Peterson.

  18. C/O O. Wehagen Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 8:35 am

    Awesome! Very proud to know how well Chris represented CDCR and also Folsom Prison!
    Your efforts prove your “Hero” status! Thanks and God Bless You.

  19. Johnny Wednesday, August 2, 2017 / 8:26 am

    My prayers go to you all…. Very courageous and excellent critical thinking. Unfortunate event.

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