June 19, 2008

Trio Honored for Saving Quadriplegic Man

By John C Ensslin

Dr. Walter Briney stood by his son's wheelchair in Denver's Berkeley Lake Park on Wednesday and wondered what might have happen if three strangers had not dived into the lake to save his son earlier this month.

Daniel Briney, a 43-year-old quadriplegic who is developmentally disabled, had been on an outing in the park June 2 when the grips on his wheelchair slipped out of an aide's hands and sent him plunging face first into the water.

On Monday, the Daniels Fund honored Jo Bullock, the aide; Denver Fire Capt. Dave Hart; and Edward Santos, a Denver Public Works employee, all of whom dived in to save Briney.

"You can't ask for any better, can you?" said Walter Briney. "Just to have someone who cares. Without the help of these people, he (Daniel) wouldn't be here."

Only Santos was able to attend the brief ceremony and meet the Brineys. He had been driving his recycling truck past the park that day when he saw two people in the lake.

"I don't know how we pulled up the wheelchair with him in it," Santos said. "It was a moment of stress, I guess."

The Daniels Fund presented each of the three people with plaques and checks for $500.

Lt. Jim Hart, who stood in for his brother, explained that Dave Hart was donating the money to the Denver Fire Fighters Burn Victims fund.

"He didn't feel it was right taking it for doing his job," explained Hart, who like his brother is a third-generation Denver firefighter.

Originally published by John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News.

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