Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | January 8, 2014

A Life was Saved!

Harlan and Jean Beck

We just clicked our heals together three times after arriving home to the Mountain tonight.  We had a wonderful few days away with friends at Havasu.  Something very special happened there.  I’d posted it on my Facebook, but decided to share it with you, too.

Some of you know our Pauma Valley friends, Harlan and Jean Beck.  They have been to the Mountain several times, and we always enjoy visiting them at Lake Havasu.
Last Thursday morning, Harlan and Jean were at the River, and had met their son and family for breakfast.  They were going to stop by their their son’s home to check out some new remodeling.  When they got to John’s home, they weren’t back yet.  They found out later that they made a last minute stop for tomato paste for a recipe for dinner.  So, Jean and Harlan decided to go down to the launch ramp and evaluate the level of the water.  With lack of rain, the water was low and they were making a decision on whether or not to take their boat out.
The place was deserted.  They got out of their truck and walked down to look around.  A small bass boat caught their eye.  It was out near the dock and they just assumed it was anchored until they heard a weak voice say “I can’t hang on much longer”.  Looking closely, they noticed a man’s head bobbing at the side.  Harlan said, “We need to do something!” while grabbing a rope from the back of the truck.  Jean is a good swimmer. She had her watch in Harlan’s pocket, and jacket off, in a few seconds.  Thankful that she’d decided against her flip-flops that morning, grabbed the rope, and jumped off the side in her tennis shoes, and swam to the boat, screaming “It’s cold, it’s cold!”
The water was just a little warmer than the outside temperature at 52 degrees.  Not a great day for a swim!  When she got to the boat, it was obvious that the man had slipped off the back, with one foot lodged up in the boat, under the engine.  Hanging on the side, she tried to dislodge his foot, with no success.  She got his shoe untied but couldn’t get his foot out.  The water was over her head and there was no ladder on the boat.  The man kept mumbling “I can’t hold on any longer”.  Jean assured him that he would be all right.  But, realizing they were running out of time, she swam around to the front of the boat, tied the rope on and swam the boat to shore.  It was so cold, she was hyper-ventilating.  It was C O L D! Harlan had recruited another fellow driving by in his golf cart.  They waded in to assist the man while Jean made a bee-line to the truck.
The man was very stunned, so cold, very weak, and mumbled “I almost died – I couldn’t hang on any longer – it was really a dumb thing to be in the boat by myself…”

The day before, when they were packing up to go to the river, Jean had put a Christmas gift in the back of their truck.  She was very thankful for the new beach towels to wrap up in.   They didn’t have the hot water on yet at their lake house, so went to their son’s for a long hot shower to warm her bones.

A few hours later, Harlan was at the resort office and the gal at the front desk said  “A man was here a few minutes ago and said he was drowning, but a lady saved his life!”.  Harlan said, “that would be my wife”.

Another couple minutes, it would have been a different story. Very special how it all came together with that last minute need for tomato paste…

2014 is starting out pretty nice for that fisherman and his family.


  1. Great story…..I’ve known these folks for many years….They can warm you with their wonderful smiles……great people…

  2. What a wonderful story! Thanks for sharing…..

  3. WOW!

  4. Great reporting. You must have journalism in your blood. — Ron Roach. Retired newspaper writer and editor.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thank you Ron. It is extra-fun to write when you have stories like this one!

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