On Jan. 25, during the early morning, Denton High School alumnus Ryan Mabry was struggling to pull a man through the sunroof of an Isuzu Amigo in the middle of Bachman Lake in Dallas.
A man was speeding along Northwest Highway and suffered a seizure while driving. He then lost control and plunged into the lake.
It was left up to two bystanders, Dallas Police Officer Mabry, and his colleagues to save the man’s life.
“The water was 45 degrees Fahrenheit,” Mabry said. “Needless to say, it was a cold morning.”
Mabry was preparing to go home after working the night shift when he got a call describing a man stuck inside his sinking car.
“Two joggers were passing by, and they saw the car come off the highway at a high speed,” Mabry said. “When they saw no one get out of the car, they called the police.”
While waiting for police to arrive, the joggers swam out to the car and tried to get the man out. However, the car door wouldn’t budge.
“By the time we got there, the car was almost completely submerged,” Mabry said. “We took off our gun belts, I grabbed my baton, and we swam out there.”
Mabry then tried to break out the window with his baton, but the water pressure was too great to give in.
“When the window wouldn’t break out, I had to get on top of the car and break the sunroof out,” Mabry said. “So I broke the sunroof out, felt with my hands to see where he was at, and I pulled him through.”
Mabry said he and the other officers then carried the unconscious man to shore and started performing chest compressions on him.
“Officer [Matt] Williamson started CPR on him,” Mabry said. “Thankfully, he started coughing and we brought him back.”
The officers called an ambulance and the man was taken to Parkland Hospital. He was expected to make a full recovery, he said. Mabry and his colleagues were honored with the Life Saving and Meritorious Conduct Award for their work.
However, Mabry’s heroic actions were no surprise to his former teacher and coach, Harold Jackson.
“He’s a hard worker and a great person,” Jackson said. “I was very proud and honored that one of our former students had done a good deed.”
Jackson and Mabry still communicate to this day.
“Coach Jackson was definitely my favorite teacher at DHS,” Mabry said. “My favorite memory with him was beating Ryan [High School] in basketball.”
Mabry played both basketball and baseball at Denton High and left a lasting impression on Jackson.
“He was one of my favorite basketball players I’ve ever coached,” Jackson said. “I’m very proud of the young man he’s become.”
After high school, Mabry attended Navarro College in Corsicana, and eventually came back to finish college at the University of North Texas. And after taking a criminal justice class, he became interested in joining the Dallas Police Department. In January 2010, Mabry was hired on and has loved it ever since, he said. And just three years later, he is being awarded for saving someone’s life.
“I’m glad nobody was seriously hurt, and everyone got out safe,” Mabry said.
TAYLOR BROWN is a senior at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” writing program for student journalists.