It's one of the highest honors law enforcement can receive -- a bronze star.
Boulder County Sheriff Deputy Gary Robinson is being awarded the honor for his heroic efforts after he jumped in a rushing creek to save a driver who went off the road last month.
Robinson was called to an area in the 22500 block of the South St. Vrain Drive shortly before 11 a.m. on July 22 for a report of a single-vehicle wreck. An SUV had left the road and flipped into St. Vrain Creek, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office (BCSO).
Deputy Jeff Brunkow was already on scene coordinating a group of Good Samaritans who were trying to help the 81-year-old driver still inside the flipped SUV.
"When I first arrived. I did observe the vehicle was on the driver side down in the water with the roof on the upside of the river. Several people were yelling at me that his head was underwater," Brunkow said.
Brunkow used a winch from his patrol vehicle to stop the SUV from being pushed down the fast-moving creek. When Robinson arrived, he took his equipment off and went into the cold water to rescue the driver.
"I had taken off all my gear, and then I went around the creek, and entered the water, and started coordinating things," Robinson said.
Robinson, who works out of the Lyon's substation, held the man's head above the water's surface for nearly an hour until fire and paramedics arrived to help remove the driver from the SUV and take him to the hospital. Robinson was able to free the driver’s legs by breaking several pieces of the dashboard.
"I remember being extremely cold after being in the water for 45 minutes. I remember it was up to my waist," Robinson said. "You don’t think about the consequences because you look at the seriousness of it."
Brunkow nominated Robinson for the Bronze Star Medal, which was last handed out in 2016 to three members of the BCSO for another situation that involved life-saving actions from law enforcement.
Robinson, who has been with the BCSO or 22 years, said it's an honor to be recognized.
"It's a big honor. It's a really big honor. It's one of the biggest awards that I've been awarded in my career," Robinson said. "You don’t think about any of it, cause it's our job. This is what we do."
Brunkow also received a Sheriff’s Commendation for his actions in the rescue.
The driver of the vehicle passed away a few days later in the hospital. The man's family reached out to the deputies to thank them for their efforts.
"When the family reaches out to you, that means more to me than the Bronze Star. The family recognizing our efforts, our work," Robinson said.
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