SRP employee hailed a hero after saving man from central Phoenix canal

Posted at 11:20 PM, Jul 16, 2017

A man struggling to stay above water was pulled to safety from a canal near 12th Street and Indian School Road early this month, and it’s all thanks to an SRP worker’s quick actions.

John Calhoun is a zanjero for SRP. He manages the water in the canals and patrols.

On June 3, he found a man in the water.

“I said, ‘Would you like some help out?’ And he said, ‘Yes my knee is kind of bothering me. It’s hurting,’” Calhoun said.

So Calhoun extended one of his tools — a long rake out to the water. But the man seemed confused.

“He just completely was not there. He didn’t respond to that command and he floated on by,” Calhoun said.

The man was floating towards radial gates in the canal.

“When you get near those, you can get sucked in, and you’re not coming out,” Calhoun said.

He urged the man to grab on to the steps but he wouldn’t do that either.

“He went under the water. He was maybe two feet under, and I could see his shirt. He had a white shirt on,” Calhoun said.

John called 911, and firefighters rescued the man just in time. He’s a double below-the-knee amputee, and first responders said he didn’t know how he ended up in the water.

“If anyone’s a hero, it’s them. I was just there directing traffic if you will,” Calhoun said.