Alumnus prevents drowning of struggling stranger
Anson Yeganegi ’09 described it as something out of a cheesy movie. The scene: a cold night last October. The time: a little past midnight. After getting off his job at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Yeganegi decided to take a different route home, one that would take him past Lake Elliot in Wheaton.
While passing the lake, he was looking at the white lights of buildings reflecting off the water. Among the sea of white lights, he saw something eerie: a single pair of red lights.
At first Yeganegi continued to drive home, but he could not get his mind off that pair of red lights. Half a mile later he turned around.
When Yeganegi got back, the red lights had materialized into a Bentley convertible, submerged in the lake. Luckily the top was down and the driver had crawled to the top. Yeganegi called 911. Just then, the car started to sink.
The motorist rolled off. Yeganegi yelled out for the man to swim, but quickly realized he could not. After that, instinct took over. Despite the 911 operator telling him not to, Yeganegi, work suit and all, jumped in.
“At that point there was no option,” Yeganegi said. “I don’t think I ever could not go in.”
By the time Yeganegi got back to shore, the ambulance had arrived and was ready to take the man to the hospital. It is then Yeganegi was brought back into reality.
“It wasn’t until I got out of the water and the paramedics had him that I realized how epically cold it was,” Yeganegi said.
Months later the night remains an odd occurrence clouded in mystery for Yeganegi, who has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal of Heroism in the United States because of his brave act.
He never found out the name of the man he saved that night. He cannot recall why he took the unusual route home. Despite this Yeganegi believes something wanted him there that night.
“Everything happens for a reason,” Yeganegi said. “There’s a reason I didn’t go home the same way, there’s a reason I turned around, and there’s a reason I was there that night.”
Yeganegi now works in Glen Ellyn and drives by Lake Elliot far more often. No matter how many times he passes the lake, he is always reminded of that cold October night.
“It’s weird. Every time I get on the road I reenact the scene in my head,” he said. “I don’t think I could ever go down that road and not think about it.”