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Sheriff's Deputy Tabbed Hero After Rescuing Family From Cambridge Swamp

CAMBRIDGE, Minn. (WCCO) -- An Isanti County Sheriff Deputy is being called a hero for helping a family escape from their vehicle after it rolled into a swamp.

The trio found themselves upside down with freezing water seeping in. The deputy was only four miles away.

WCCO's Reg Chapman has more on how the deputy risked his own life to save the lives of others.

Bill Jensen says he lost control of his vehicle while driving near Verdin Street and 345th Avenue NW in Cambridge late Monday night.

Isanti County Swamp Rescue
(credit: CBS)

"I was sliding and I steered into the slide. I felt myself catch and we were going to be good except the road was exactly one road wide, no shoulder, nothing. We hit it and tumbled upside down," Bill Jensen said.

Jensen, his girlfriend, Shorty, and his 87-year-old father were trapped upside down in a vehicle that was filling with water fast.

"There was water coming in and it was cold and we couldn't get any doors open," Bill said.

"I can't remember the vehicle rolling and I thought 'Hey I'm hanging upside down by my seat belt' and when I released the seat belt, it hit the water," Shorty said.

Shorty Nelson says she was able to reach her cell phone and call for help.

"That was the sweetest voice I had heard in a long time. She said I know exactly where you are, help is on the way," Nelson said.

Within four minutes, Isanti County Deputy Alex Schlangen made it to the scene.

"When I got out I heard them tapping on the glass and I knew right away I had to get these people out. They were screaming 'help get me out,'" Schlangen said. "I grabbed my baton and I just swung as hard as I could against the window. It shattered right way, luckily, and I said let's try getting out one at a time."

Deputy Schlangen took them, out one by one, and let them warm up inside his squad car. All say the quick actions of the deputy saved their lives.

Deputy Schlangen was recognized for his actions by county officials on Wednesday. The Jensen family says he has a permanent spot on their Christmas list.

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