Man honored for saving child in the Carson River

A Johnson Lane man was recognized Thursday for heroism during the Memorial Day weekend when he saved a boy from drowning in the Carson River.

"I didn't expect this," said Ron Dean at the Carson City Board of Supervisors meeting. The crowd gave Dean a standing ovation for saving the 5-year-old Minden boy.

"It's one thing for those of us who train to do this," said Fire Chief Stacey Giomi. "But what he did was something else."

It was much cooler than average for the three-day weekend that signals the beginning of summer. There had been snow flurries in the area, but some people made their way outside to enjoy the holiday anyway.

The boy, along with his mother, two older brothers and her boyfriend were riding a raft on the river May 27. As they approached a bend by Empire Ranch, the raft overturned and threw all five of them into the water.

The water was moving fast. The older children and adults were able to swim ashore, but the boy was swept up in the current and floated north.

Dean, who works for Silver State Athletic Center on Morgan Mill Road, was one of three men putting finishing touches on an outdoor sand volleyball court when he heard the child screaming from the river.

"I knew what I was doing when I did it," he said. "I knew I could get him, and I knew I could get him back to shore."

Dean worried the boy would reach a nearby fork in the river and travel toward a rocky section of the river.

Dean's coworkers drove down to a bridge downstream in case the boy had gotten that far. They planned to try and grab the child if Dean couldn't get to him, he said.

Dean guessed he ran about 300 yards along the river before jumping in. While he was able to throw his wallet and cell phone to the ground before entering the river, he ended up leaving his boots on.

"Man that water was cold," he remembered.

And deep. Dean is about 6 feet tall and expected the water to reach his chest if he had stood up, but he ended up paddling the entire time because he couldn't put his feet down on anything solid.

"I jumped in and it was full-blown swimming," he said.

The boy "had a knot on his head, but was conscious and talking," Dean said. "But he had no strength left in him."

Two people on the golf course were watching and had called 911 for help. Firefighters arrived soon after Dean pulled the boy out.

Dean "was low key. And he was obviously wet," said Battalion Chief Richard Chrzanowski, who was on duty that day.

Dean, 45, lives on Johnson Lane with his wife and two children, and works in Carson City.

The boy's family didn't want to be identified, but did send Dean "a nice thank-you card," he said.

"You do what you have to do," Dean said. "I'm just a dad. I hope anybody in that situation would have done the same thing."

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.


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