The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher-Owner
Karen and Dean Hurliman of Burlington, Iowa were angels walking in Henderson County on a cold freezing day, two days before Christmas this past year and Sheriff Steve Haynes wanted to give them recognition in ceremony Tuesday morning in his office.
Karen is a church Secretary and Dean, is retired but also an Eagle Scout, but on this particular afternoon he says it was his wife who was an heroic scout after pulling a young man from freezing waters saving his life.
Two or 3 times a month, the Hurlimans travel to Henderson County because they like to walk and they love the scenery that is in this beautiful county.
"I don't think there is anything similar, Dean said. "We walk at the Big River State Park through the forest, randomly, and at nearby places such as Gladstone Lake. If we are pressed for time we go the Gladstone Lake, there is no schedule, we just go as we feel like it."
Dean said, "on December 23rd it was an overcast winter day, not too much light and we were finishing up our walk around Gladstone Lake, and heard a lot of screaming and yelling.
We assumed it was teenagers playing, but it was persistent and from where we were, we looked out and saw a woman in a sitting position. That seemed pretty strange."
The Hurlimans hollered to she if they needed help and they said to call 911.
They were 100 yards away and the young woman was sitting on a finger of land that goes out like a narrow trail that people fish off of and she was on the end of that finger of land as the couple had been ice fishing.
I was calling 911 and look up and my wife just left and was going out on that little finger of land, and she picked up a pine bough limb that was on the ground.
Meanwhile, I got the car and drove it closer assuming we would need it to warm the people up and I looked up and my wife was pulling this guy out.
The young woman was holding onto my wife's foot or ankle and my wife was flat on her stomach pulling him out. They had formed a human chain.
The branch broke and he fell back in and she put it out again. He didn't think he could do it again, but she convinced him to try and got him up and all the way out of the water.
"Me and my wife and another unknown man pulled him to shore. He could hardly move or stand up or anything," Dean said. "He was in really bad shape. His coveralls (like Carharts) were unbelievably heavy."
We don't know their names but they were Henderson County residents In their twenties..... ice fishing. It was pretty traumatic!"
EMTs came along with a few local Gladstone men and they were transported to Big River Medical Center in Burlington, Iowa.
Dean said he was sure the young man wouldn't have lasted if it had been 5 more minutes.
"My wife is a strong willed determined woman," Dean said, "and if she decides to save you, its going happen ... its a done deal!"
Dean said, "My wife is 62 years old and the victim was completely wet, yet she went right down flat onto that ice to save him."
Karen is secretary at Faith Lutheran Church on Sunnyside Ave. in Burlington, IA.
Although Dean's the Eagle Scout he said, "it was my wife who did the boy scouting thing! It was just instinct and she just did it.
I'm not sure I would have thought of picking up a limb but its probably a good thing she went out on the ice since she's lighter weight."
Sheriff Steve Haynes, didn't want this act of heroism to go without recognition and in a ceremony Tuesday, he presented Karen and Dean Hurliman a plaque of honor which they say will be cherished.
Afterwards, the couple drove on to Big River State Forest to enjoy another walk through the forest, and they saw a lot geese overhead.
"I don't know if people in Henderson County appreciate what they have over here," Dean said.
But there is one young couple from Henderson County who truly must appreciate what Henderson County has. After all, it drew caring and energetic folk like the Hurlimans here, to stroll around Gladstone Lake, even on a cold wintery day.
The heroric act of Karen Hurliman was recognized Tuesday by Henderson County Sheriff Steve Haynes.