Delivery driver saves man, daughter from river

Friday, May 8, 2015

ROCHESTER, Minn. – As a delivery driver for Corner Medical, Jeremy Severson is used to keeping his eyes on the road. Thankfully, on the day he rescued a man and his young daughter from drowning, he didn’t. 

While driving to the zoo on a recent day off with his mother, Severson spotted a car in the Zumbro River.

“I didn’t think anything of it at the time,” said Severson.

Nonetheless, he still made a left-hand turn to investigate. That’s when he heard someone pounding on the window from inside the car.

Severson told his mother to call 911 and made his way down the embankment.

“I was about knee-deep and that’s when I noticed the child in the backseat,” he said. “The driver was already partially underwater, probably waist or so high.”

At 6 feet 4 inches tall, the water was up to Severson’s chest by the time he reached the car. 

Though the driver, Jian Zhong, was unable to open his driver’s side door, he was able to reach into the backseat and open the door for his 3-year-old daughter. That’s when Severson grabbed the child.

“The car was sinking and we didn’t have much time,” he said. “All of this happened in a minute, from when I saw them to when I got down there.”

Zhong then made his way into the backseat and crawled out the door before the car filled with water. 

Since the rescue, Severson has become a hero in his community—and to his patients, who recognized his face on the front page of the local newspaper.

Ultimately, Severson says it comes down to being in the right place at the right time.

“I was right there,” he said. “And I hope that anybody else would do that same thing if they were put in that position.”