Homeless veteran rescues distressed swimmer from Phoenix canal

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A man who identified himself as a homeless veteran jumped into a canal to rescue a swimmer in distress Friday morning in Phoenix.

“I don’t think any of us really thought about the dangers of helping him,” said Richard McNeil, 41. “Where I came from, you just helped people — doesn’t make a difference if I’m homeless or not, I still help people when I can.”

McNeil said as he waited for a bus on 16th Street near Indian School Road at about 8 a.m. he heard splashing and a man crying for help.

McNeil said he and several others rushed to help the man, who was said to be in his 50s. They had pulled him from the Grand Canal before fire crews arrived.

“The man is in stable condition,” said Capt. Ardell Deliz, a Phoenix Fire Department spokeswoman. “He is at the hospital for further evaluation.”

Deliz wanted to remind people “to be careful around canals, and to not enter the canals to swim.”

McNeil said he didn’t want any praise or assistance; he is happy living on the streets. He just hoped the man he helped would “pay it forward.”

, The Republic | azcentral.com