FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Tarrant County’s Sheriff is coming to the defense of a deputy who risked her life to save another.
Fort Worth Deputy Krystal Salazar was swept away in flood waters while attempting to rescue Zenola Jenkins, 76, of Burleson, who was swept away in Friday’s flood waters.
Dashcam video shows Deputy Salazar trying to navigate waist-to-chest high frigid water before the water carried her away. The release of the video has caused some people to criticize Deputy Salazar on social media.
Sheriff Dee Anderson has the following message for those people:
“Once again I turn to you, my friends, as this world of social media spins out of control. By now most of you are likely familiar with the heartbreaking story of our young deputy, Krystal Salazar, and her heroic attempt to save a mother and grandmother who we have now learned is a wonderful, caring family lady from raging floodwaters on Thanksgiving night.
Ignoring the obvious danger, Deputy Salazar plunged into the frigid, roaring water in an attempt to reach the victim who was trapped in her vehicle by the flood. Before she could reach the victim, Deputy Salazar was herself overcome by the very strong current and carried downstream. With no life preserver or any kind of flotation device, the Deputy managed to stay above the water while her body was battered by rocks, trees and other debris. She was eventually able to grab a tree limb and hang on. For the next two hours, she literally fought for her very life as she continued to hang onto the tree. After the harrowing two hours some very brave Fort Worth firefighters managed to locate her and get her to safety. After narrowly escaping death herself, she was taken to a local hospital where her injuries did not require hospitalization, treated and released.
Sadly for all, the victim, despite the valiant effort of not only Deputy Salazar, but the victim’s son-in-law (who was trapped against a guard rail by the current himself) could not be saved. Her car was swept away by the water and she did not survive.
Krystal Salazar is a young Deputy with our agency. I am asked many times if the “new” generation of law enforcement coming up will have the same dedication, the same sense of duty, as did the last generation. I can only tell you that Deputy Salazar, without hesitation or second thought, risked her life to try to save that of another, complete stranger. She knew only that someone needed help and jumped into action, with no regard for her own safety. That action is the most we can ever ask of anyone, to put your life on the line to save another. There is no greater service one can give to mankind beyond that.
Rightfully so, many are calling Deputy Salazar a hero for her efforts. Only those of you who have been in any kind of emergency service may understand this, but she does not feel that way. There is an old saying in public safety about those we could not save are those we remember most. I certainly subscribe to that theory, as the loss of Amber Hagerman will haunt me until me until I draw my last breath. Deputy Salazar is heartbroken and distraught, which is understandable. When I was able to meet with her in person yesterday (Monday) she was adamant that she wanted no recognition, no honors for her effort and she didn’t want to be even thought of as a hero. I gently told her she could not control what people think. I told her I, and many others, do believe she is a hero for her actions. The victim’s family is extremely grateful for her efforts to save their loved one. Deputy Salazar is eager to heal both physically and emotionally, and return to her patrol duties.
In the midst of all this comes the ugly side of social media. The naysayers are questioning her judgement, her decisions and actions. One moronic person even suggested she was trying to bring attention to herself. If someone really thinks she would have subjected herself to the suffering she endured and in the process came within a whisker of losing her own life for attention, I have no words for that person, as they are not worthy of any of my time.
In spite of the always present naysayers, support and accolades are pouring in for Deputy Salazar and all the heroes who risked their lives over the last week helping and saving those who needed help most by performing as first responders, call takers, dispatchers and all the functions of emergency response.
I ask only that you keep Deputy Salazar and the victim’s family in your thoughts and prayers. Let’s push back against all those with hurtful intentions and let the world know that whether she wants to be or not, Deputy Salazar is a hero to many of us. I, and I know most of you, thank God there are still her and other men and women willing to put their very lives on the line when duty calls. May God bless them all.
I thank you all for your continuing, unwavering support of me and the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office.”