the veiled sibyl

I have heard and said more inanities, since you took me in tow, than in all the rest of my life.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Protect and What?

A fine example of how the University Police Department goes out of their way to make themselves an integral part of the San Marcos community...

Man arrested after he rescues swimmer

Texas State University police report (PDF)
By Katie Humphrey

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

When Dave Newman waded out of the San Marcos River on Sunday afternoon, he was exhausted. He had just pulled Abed Duamni of Houston out of the swirling waters below Joe's Crab Shack and deposited him, safe and sound, on the far shoreline.

Then Newman, of San Marcos, was handcuffed, put in a Texas State University police squad car and taken to jail, where he was charged with interfering with public duties. "I was amazed," Newman, 48, said after getting out of Hays County Law Enforcement Center on $2,000 bail Monday morning. "I had a very uncomfortable night after saving that guy's life. He thanked me for it in front of the police, and then they took me to jail."

Police say Newman disobeyed repeated orders by emergency personnel to leave the water. Newman responded, "Why do I? The guy is out of the water," the report said. The police report makes no mention of Newman's rescue of Duamni, and officials who were at the scene were not available for comment Monday.

Duamni, 35, said he had eaten lunch at Joe's Crab Shack with some friends and decided to go for a swim. He said he did not see any signs warning swimmers of the dangerous currents near the falls. He had jumped into the water a number of times, but the last time, around 3 p.m., the current swept him toward the restaurant, he said. He said he was felt as if he was stuck under the falls, and no matter what direction he tried to swim in, he couldn't get up for air because he kept bumping into something. "I reached a point where I said, 'I'm dead,' " Duamni, who was visiting San Marcos, said from his Houston home Monday night. "There's was nothing I could do. I thought, 'That's it, I'm over, I'm gone.' " But suddenly he found an underground air pocket, said Duamni, a mechanical engineer who specializes in underground utilities. Later, he learned that he was in a hole used for a turbine on the old mill that is now the building where Joe's Crab Shack sits.

He was still stuck when Newman, who had been swimming in the river, went over to help. Newman said he had seen Duamni get sucked under the restaurant by the river's current. When Duamni didn't surface, Newman swam over to the rushing waters at the foot of the Spring Lake Dam. Others had already sprung into action and were standing beside the bank where Newman swam after Duamni. Someone tossed him a rope, Newman said, and he used it to tie himself to the restaurant building. Newman ducked underwater and felt around for the distressed swimmer, he said. When Newman came up for air, someone passed him a mask, and he dove down again. "I had a foot in my face," he said. "I grabbed it and pulled. I pulled myself up and pushed him toward the light. I was just amazed that he was alive."

This wasn't the first time a swimmer has been in danger at the popular San Marcos swimming hole. In April, 22-year-old Jason Lee Bonnin, a Joe's Crab Shack employee and Texas State University-San Marcos student, drowned after he and three other employees jumped from the restaurant into the river.

In May 1999, Texas State University, which owns the dam and the land around it, erected a fence to prohibit access to that part of the river. Later that year, the City Council enacted a swimming ban on that portion of the river.

In 1999, Newman, a corporate airline pilot who flies a Saudi Arabian oil minister between the United States and Saudi Arabia, led a successful campaign to get the fences around the swimming hole removed and the ban relaxed.

After pulling Duamni out of the water, Newman said, he swam him under a waterfall and over to the shore opposite from Joe's Crab Shack. He could hear law enforcement personnel telling him to come back to the shore by the restaurant. According to the report, Newman smirked and seemed annoyed by officers' requests. He stood in the water for about 15 seconds before swimming downstream, to avoid the turbulence from the waterfall, and across the river to the officers, the report said. "When he came across the river, the officer stuck out his hand like he's going to help him out of the water, and he put cuffs on him," said John Parnell, pastor of St. Augustine Old Roman Catholic Church in Fort Worth, who watched the events unfold from shore.

An unidentified second man, whose age was given as 19 and who had been in the water helping Newman with the rescue, ran from the police and was not arrested.

According to the police report and witness accounts, the crowd that had gathered to watch the rescue became agitated when they saw the police arrest Newman. Parnell and another man blocked the police officer's path to the squad car while other members of the crowd yelled at the police, telling them Newman had saved Duamni's life and should not be arrested.

University spokesman Mark Hendricks said he did not know whether Newman rescued Duamni. Hendricks said it was his understanding that Newman was completely uncooperative with authorities and would not answer them when they asked if anyone else was in the water.
Newman denied that he was ever asked if others were still in the water.

When Duamni got out of the water, he was surprised to see the crowd of spectators and emergency personnel gathered around to rescue him. He saw Newman in handcuffs and asked who he was. "I said, 'What's the deal,' and the police said, 'He got you out,' " Duamni said.
San Marcos resident Bob Ogletree, who had helped pass Newman the rope he used in the rescue, said he understood why emergency personnel wanted to clear the water. But Ogletree said he didn't understand why Newman, who appeared to be cooperating with officers, had to be arrested. "It all seems so curious," Ogletree said. "Ultimately, I don't know, but it does seem terribly unfortunate and somewhat in poor taste to have taken this guy to jail."


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