2010 Breaking News: River Rescue:|
During a couple's summer outing on the Des Moines River, their boat drifted over a dam, hurling them into the rolling waters below. Firefighters couldn't reach Patricia Ralph-Neely, 67, who was being sucked under by a powerful current.
Des Moines Register photographer Mary Chind was watching from a crowded riverbank where she'd dropped off a camera lens for a colleague. Suddenly, she saw a construction crane moving toward the dam. Construction worker Jason Oglesbee was being lowered into the river. Using a 300 mm telephone lens -- shorter than ideal -- Chind braced her elbows and got a clear image. She focused on Ralph-Neely's hand. "Her hand was outstretched, and he got ahold of her forearm," Chind said. Ralph-Neely was lifted to safety.
Ralph-Neely's husband, Alan, drowned that day, and Chind is sensitive about celebrating her award when "something tragic has happened to somebody in our hometown." After Chind won the Pulitzer, she was touched by a congratulatory note from Ralph-Neely telling her, "At least one of us was in the right place that day."