Men Who Risked Their Own Safety to Save a Life Get HPD's Highest Honor

Reuben Silva
Reuben Silva
Jim Crites
Jim Crites

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- With little regard for their own safety, five men jumped into a contaminated waterway to save a driver trapped in a submerged truck. On Wednesday, their heroic efforts were recognized.

Honolulu police say it's very rare for them to give out their highest award for civilians. But it's not everyday people from different walks of life come together as a team to save a life.

They braved the murky waters of the Ala Wai Canal, swimming among stinging jellyfish, to rescue a man from his sinking truck.

"Just jump right in, try to pull the guy out," Reuben Silva, Medal of Valor recipient, said on June 9, 2007. "Couldn't get him out, so flipped the truck over."

Now, the five Good Samaritans -- including Jim Crites of Hawaii Kai and Silva of Makakilo -- are receiving the Honolulu Police Department's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Valor.

"It feels good, you know, like the community actually recognizing us for something that we did just by not even thinking, you know, just trying to help somebody out," Silva said.

Crites jumped right in, after the truck plowed into two vehicles and plunged into the water.

"I just figured it could be me, so, you know, you'd want somebody to help you," the 54-year-old Medal of Valor recipient said. "So if you're going to get that kind of karma back, you might as well go for it."

But the Ala Wai?

"I grew up on the Potomac, so it's like almost the same," Crites said smiling. "You don't think about that, honestly. All you think is somebody needs some help. You'd better go or else they're not going to make it."

The 57-year-old driver was underwater for several minutes. The heroic efforts of the strangers saved his life.

"The holidays, you know, make you think about it a little bit," Crites said. "And you think, well, hopefully his family is happy because he's still around."

"A lot of people call me hero," Silva said. "I'm like, ah, I'm not that hero. Just was trying to help out somebody in need."

Sounds like a hero to us.