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May 16, 2007
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Colo. officer haunted by near-save

Rocky Mountain News

DENVER, Colo. — Denver police officer Jairon Katz is haunted by the image of the youth slipping from his grip as floodwaters swept them down a creek.

"He had a hold of the kid," Michael Katz said Tuesday, recalling his son's effort to save the youth from the rushing water that almost claimed them both.

With his vest and boots still on, Jairon Katz jumped into Goldsmith Gulch on Monday night after two people told him that someone was in the water.

The urge to take action came naturally to the former Wheat Ridge firefighter and aspiring movie stuntman who became a police officer for the "satisfaction of making things right," his father said.

"Instead of reading about it the next day, he got in the water," Michael Katz said.

The officer only took time to remove his gun belt before entering the water.

Jairon Katz had been trained in water rescue, his father said.

"It was an amazing coincidence in that sense. I don't know that anyone would've fared any better," Michael Katz said.

His son was able to get a hold of the youth at one point, but they were pulled apart after hitting something, Michael Katz said.

After they were separated, Jairon Katz, too, was overwhelmed by the currents in the gulch near East Yale Avenue and South Quebec Street.

Michael Katz said his son told him that the cold water numbed his hands and legs.

Fellow officers pulled Jairon Katz from the water, but the youth, whose name and age are unknown, remains missing.

Jairon Katz, a 3-year-veteran of the Denver Police Department, was treated for hypothermia at Denver Health and was released.

The 30-year-old officer declined to be interviewed Tuesday. Michael Katz said his son is fine, except for bruises and the relentless lament of having been so close to saving a life.

"He was almost successful," Michael Katz said. "I'm sure that bothers him a great deal.

"He says that when they find him (the youth), he's going to be even more bummed. It'll bring it home to him when they find the body that he wasn't able to save him."

Copyright 2007 Rocky Mountain News

Full story: Colo. officer haunted by near-save

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