Ken Fergel was trapped in his car, which was submerged upside down in 3 feet of icy water after crashing down a 15-foot embankment Monday night. The 80-year-old survived the wreck and the frigid waters, making this one of the best survival stories to come out of the last two days.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reported that Fergel managed to keep his head above water until help arrived. Temps at the time of the wreck were 19 degrees with a wind-chill index of 5 degrees. Topeka police officers Aaron Jones and Scott McEntire waded into the creek to save the farmer.
From the Cap-Journal:
The officers jumped into ice-cold water to pull Fergel to safety.
McEntire and Jones worked together to gain access to the trapped man.
Both windows on the driver's side were broken out during the accident.
Jones was able to crawl through the driver's side back window after
McEntire slipped his belt off.
Fergel said the officers after helping him out of the car had "a
terrible time" getting him up the creek bank because it was so tall and
steep, and conditions were so slick.
A freezing Fergel was rushed to a local hospital.
Fergel later told the Cap-Journal that he was able to get out of his seat belt
but couldn't get out of the car. He estimated that he was in the water
for at least 10 minutes.
"I didn't ever think that I wasn't going to get out," Fergel told the Cap-Journal. "I was pretty sure I was going to get out of there some
It goes without saying, but the officers' actions were heroic. Their higher-ups noted it in a news release Tuesday.
"Their actions are considered heroic for entering the frozen water,
freeing the man from the vehicle and rendering aid until emergency
medical personnel arrived," police Capt. Jerry Stanley wrote. "The
officers' actions obviously led to a much more positive outcome than the
circumstances were dictating."
Fergel was reportedly listed in satisfactory condition at a Topeka hospital. He had some pain in his sternum, but otherwise, he was in good shape.