Manchester police heroes: 'What it boils down to is it's the job'
Immediately, police and firefighters were dispatched to the river, which was roaring because of an early snowmelt.
He arrived at Arms Park about the same time as Officer Richard Valenti. They saw the woman immediately, about 15 to 20 feet from shore, up to her neck in the roiling, bone-chilling water.
Dunlap ran back to his patrol car to get a “rescue disc” — a bright orange disc attached to a rope — to throw to the woman, hoping she would grab onto it so they could pull her to shore.
“She was clawing at it,” Dunlap said. “Unfortunately, she had been in the river so long she had no dexterity in her hands.”
“She wasn’t really responding to anything,” Valenti said. “It was just she was so cold. There was no way she was going to be able to physically even hold onto it.”
Together, they made their way out to the boulder, picked up the woman, and carried her through the rushing waters to shore where other officers, firefighters and an ambulance were waiting.
Dunlap said neither he nor Valenti thought about the danger they put themselves in that day and don’t consider themselves heroes.
“She survived, thank God,” Valenti said.
The Union Leader Hero Awards honor New Hampshire residents who have risked their lives in the previous year to save or attempt to save the life of another person.
Recipients of the 2014 Union Leader Hero Awards will be honored at a ceremony at 3 p.m. May 13 at the State House in Concord. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested.