Officers Rescue Trapped Man from Vehicle

Marine Resources Conservation Enforcement Officers Jason Downey and John Knapp were recently honored by Barnett Lawley, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, for the officers’ heroic role in the rescue of an accident victim from Mobile Bay.

Downey and Knapp had just wrapped up a shift of duty at 11 p.m. during roe mullet season and were coming off the Dauphin Island Bridge when they noticed something out of place. They spotted a dim red light and then another. They quickly realized there was a submerged vehicle that had careened over the seawall on Highway 193.

The female driver was outside the vehicle, which was upside down in chest-deep water. She relayed the fact her male companion was trapped inside the Dodge Durango.

Downey and Knapp shed their equipment belts and plunged into the frigid water. They managed to get the rear hatch open, but still could not see the trapped occupant. Downey finally spotted the 20-year-old male’s hand sticking out under the console and Knapp spotted the trapped passenger’s legs.

The officers then convinced the passenger to hold his breath and go limp so they could pull him out. “We pulled him under the console under the water and yanked him out,” Downey said. “They were lucky,” Knapp added. “If that cab had crushed down a little more, that whole cab would have been full of water.”

Lawley said presenting the certificates of appreciation to the two officers at the Alabama Conservation Advisory Board meeting recently was the least the department could do.

“We appreciate all that these officers do,” Lawley said. “This gives us the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices and work these officers do on a daily basis. We don’t do this enough. Hopefully, we’ll be able to recognize accomplishments like this more often.”

Major John T. Jenkins, Chief of Enforcement with Marine Resources, said the response by Downey and Knapp is an indication of the quality of the department’s enforcement personnel.

“You can’t train or supervise people and make them just care – to care and do the right thing,” Jenkins said. “This is just one incident, but our officers stop and help people all the time. It’s outside the framework of their jobs, but they do it because they care about the community and we are part of the community.”

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine Resources, State Parks, State Lands, and Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.