ST. JOSEPH, Mich. – A Mishawaka woman is being called a hero after she helped rescue another woman who fell into the water. It happened just before 9:30 Monday night at Silver Beach in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Bonnie Miller was walking with her husband and son on the south pier and texting when she fell into the cold, fast-moving river side of the pier. But 19-year-old Becky Van Zant from Mishawaka happened to be right there with friends when it happened, and she took action.
“All the sudden we heard this boy yell, 'Mom!' and then we all were freaking out, looked over,” Van Zant recalled. “I just ran over and jumped off the pier.”
Van Zant doesn’t think she’s a hero.
“It was just natural. I didn’t even think about it to be honest.”
She considers herself a strong swimmer, but doesn’t have any water rescue training.
“My face didn’t go under,” she told WSBT. “When I jumped in I just kicked my legs so I could stay up and see where she was. I swam to her and I got her and told her everything would be alright.”
While Van Zant cradled Miller, 44, in one arm, her friends helped coach Miller’s husband out of the frigid, choppy water. He’d jumped in moments before.
In a 911 recording Berrien County Dispatchers gave WSBT, the original caller is heard telling a dispatcher, ‘Hold on! I have to help this guy right here!’
The caller then tells a nearby friend to take his phone and talk to the dispatcher so he can help the man struggling in the water,
‘Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry!’ the girl says as he’s handing her the phone.
Ultimately, they pulled Miller’s husband to safety and first responders helped pull Van Zant and Bonnie Miller from the water. Nobody was hurt during the rescue.
Van Zant, a Mishawaka High School graduate, hasn’t had the best luck lately.
She was in a car accident on Lincoln Way in Mishawaka Sunday, totaling her car. A few months ago, she took the test to become a member of the United States Coast Guard, but missed it by just a few points.
But her daring night time plunge to save someone else's life might be just what she needed to get back on track.
“I hope it gives her some more confidence as well,” said her dad, Dan.
“It’s her destiny,” added her mom, Maggi.
“I’m gonna try this again,” Becky said. “As soon as the Coast Guard got there and I saw the badge on one of the guys I was like, 'This is what I want to do.' I would do it every day.”