Some days are better than others for police officers. Those occasions when police officers can lend a hand and make a difference in someone’s life rather chase down thieves and other criminals are sometimes few and far between. Two Osage Beach officers, with the help of some neighbors, may have, indeed, saved the life of an elderly man when he slipped into the chilling waters of Lake of the Ozarks recently.
On Oct. 17 at approximately 11:55 a.m., officers were called to a residence next to 1625 Nichols Road, where a man was reportedly trapped in the water. Officer Kevin Friend and Officer Steven Snow arrived within a minute and a half.
As they arrived, they heard a man and a woman yelling for help, They ran to a dock owned by Jerry Shaw of Osage Beach. There they found Kathy Bonnot and Donnie Cochran keeping Jerry Shaw’s head above water until help arrived. Officer Friend jumped onto the hoist tank and between the four of them, they were able to free Shaw and get him out of the water. By that time,, Shaw was extremely week and hypothermic. Measures were taken by Officer Friend to warm Shaw until medical and fire department personnel arrived.
At the hospital, Shaw said he had been attempting to winterize his boat and because the pump he had just purchased to bilge out the engine couldn’t be used, he was removing the water one rag at a time. He was already tired after removing approximately five gallons of water. The unthinkable happened as he was carrying the boats battery down the center walkway of the dock. He fell into the water and became trapped between the hoist and the dock’s walkway. He went under water and when he came up he grabbed hold of the dock and just held on. He tried to pull himself out of the water but was unable to do so. On top of being exhausted, his clothing, including a heavy sweatshirt had become waterlogged. He began yeliing for help, hoping someone in the neighborhood would hear him.
Cochran, who owns a cleaning and maintenance business, was working at a house nearby. He was the first to hear Jerry Shaw’s cries for help. Bonnot, a local realtor, stated that she heard something, initially believing that the sounds were coming from children playing at a nearby daycare. She then realized that the sounds were that of someone in distress and saw Cochran running towards the Shaw’s dock. Bonnot followed. Both Cochran and Bonnot stated that at this time all you could see was the top of Jerry’s head and his hands clinging to the dock. Donnie could not pull Jerry to safety, He said he, “just grabbed his belt and held on.” Bonnot made the 911 call summoning emergency help.
Page 2 of 2 - Shaw’s wife of 60 years, Lenette, was at their house, unaware of what was happening at the dock until Bonnot ran to the Shaw’s house. She briefly explained what had happened and told Lenette to grab blankets. Jerry later said, “she grabbed the best comforter in the house when we have several old ones.”
After reflecting on the ordeal, Shaw said, “Always have someone with you if you are working around a lake or other waterway.”
Jerry knows how close he was to death, after being in the water between 30 and 40 minutes, and is thankful to everyone for saving his life.