Man Nearly Drowns, 29 Receive 911 Life Saver Awards

By KBJR News 1

Man Nearly Drowns, 29 Receive 911 Life Saver Awards

May 14, 2013 Updated May 14, 2013 at 5:18 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Twenty-nine people were honored Tuesday for their combined efforts in saving one man's life, last summer.

From family to first responders, to police and ambulance drivers, each was given an award at the St. Louis County Board meeting in Duluth.

Gary Kainz was filled with gratitude as he stood before the 29 people who rescued him after he nearly drowned in Loon Lake in August.

"I thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said.

He recalls struggling for air after he fell into a deep lake drop off.

"I just sank to the bottom of the lake, I remember the weeds all around me, the flowing weeds," he said.

Without hesitation, grandson Branden Kainz jumped in to save Grandpa.

"I looked down and I saw the glare of his skin," he said. "I went down, and I came up and called for help."

Some family members jumped in to help pull Gary to shore while others called 911.

Rescue crews rushed to the lake arriving within minutes.

Gary spent a night on life support, but survived.

"One truly deserving was Branden, the 12-year-old that went in, found his grandfather, and was able to get people to help him out of the water," Lt. Edward Kippley of the Palo Fire Department said. "Without his efforts, none of this would have been possible."

Each person who played a role in Kainz's recovery was given a 911 Life Saver award from county commissioners.

"A tragedy was avoided on the evening of August 2nd, 2012 because of the heroic efforts of Branden Kainz, Charles Mattson and Carol Kainz and all the first responders who assisted at the scene," St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman said.

"There's just so many involved that my heart goes out to all of them," Kainz said.

After this brush with death, Kainz also says he no longer takes anything for granted.

"Life is normal, but my family wants to give me one of those wading pools," he joked.

After the ceremony, Kainz said he planned to spend the rest of the day with his family.