Claremore man's lifesaving instinct kicks in
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Saturday, May 14, 2011
5/14/11 at 6:19 AM
CLAREMORE – Having grown up swimming in Missouri's swift Current River, Darrin Blunkall has always been comfortable in the water.
So last week, while driving with his 5-year-old son, Adam, when he saw the bobbing head of a man who had crashed his van into Claremore Lake, Blunkall didn't hesitate.
"I looked at my son and said, 'You have to stay here. I have to go in. I'm not going to let somebody die,' " he said.
Blunkall, 34, of Claremore pulled Russell Wilt, 78, of Claremore, to safety. Wilt was admitted to Claremore Regional Hospital and has since been discharged, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Messages left Friday at Wilt's home weren't returned.
Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton said: "I don't know what (Wilt's) size is, but I don't care if he's 100 pounds - you're wrestling a human in the water and trying to get him. That's tough.
"It's encouraging that people are willing to risk their life on a deal like this," he said. "This man was down to probably seconds of being a fatality. By the grace of God, the situation yielded enough time and the willingness of Mr. Blunkall to save a man's life."
The afternoon of the rescue, Blunkall was headed to Sequoyah schools to pick up Adam's three older brothers, he said. He crested a hill on northbound County Road 418 and saw a Ford minivan in Claremore Lake and two fishermen standing on the bank.
Told that the men weren't strong swimmers, Blunkall said he "took off in a dead swim for him."
After corralling Wilt and dragging him to shore, an exhausted Blunkall checked for a pulse and began CPR. Roughly 10 chest compressions later, Wilt exhaled, and Blunkall handed him off to emergency personnel.
Walton said he's unsure why Wilt's vehicle left the road. Blunkall said he hasn't had a chance to speak to Wilt since that day.
"I've been saying 100 prayers a day for him," he said. "I want to give him a great big hug and go fishing with him someday."
A former long-haul truck driver who is between jobs, Blunkall learned CPR when he was a volunteer firefighter in Birch Tree, Mo. He said he hopes last week's episode isn't the last time he saves a life.
"Now I really know what I want to do," he said. "I want to go back to school" to be an emergency medical technician.
Original Print Headline: Man's lifesaving instinct kicks in
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
Darrin Blunkall of Claremore sits next to the spot on Claremore Lake where he jumped in to the water to rescue a 78-year-old man after the man accidently drove his car into the lake. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World