FRESNO, California (KSEE) – It was just after 7:30 p.m. when off-duty Fresno Police Department officer Thao Xiong was heading home with his kids and then heard a motorcycle go off the road.
“I see a loud crashing sound and dirt flying everywhere on the canal bank. So, I immediately knew that something bad had happened,” said officer Thaoseng Xiong.
Xiong pulled over and looked for the motorcycle and knew the rider had to be in the cold, swift moving canal. Thinking on his feet, he remembered he had a rope in his truck.
“I’ve had that rope for 15 years, it’s kind of funny and so I untied my rope and I stood up on the bed of my truck, I looked in the canal and I saw the rider. I could see his helmet; I could see him bobbing.”
Throwing the rope a few times and trying to keep the victim conscious, Xiong finally was able to get the victim to the side of the canal while they waited for Fresno PD’s assistance to help pull him out of the waters.
“I don’t think we have any question that officer Xiong’s actions saved this citizen’s life,” said Lt. Rob Beckwith, the Public Information Officer for the Fresno Police Department.
The debris-filled canal would have swept the rider away, but officers managed to form a human chain and drag him to safety. The motorist is now in stable condition at Community Regional Medical Center.
“I think that this is a good example of what the police officers in this department do and how they care about community, and they value every life in this community,” said Lt. Beckwith.
Xiong doesn’t feel like he did anything special and says he’s just glad he could be in the right place at the right time.
“I don’t really feel like I’m a hero, I just felt I did what had to be done and I just hope that if I was ever in that situation that anybody else would do the same. So, that’s kind of how I felt, but it did feel good to have my kids say that about me in front of me so that was a good feeling.”