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Twin Cities man surfing in Duluth rescues man, dog from Lake Superior

He was about to end his day when a woman in a wheelchair asked for help.

A Minneapolis man who drove up to Duluth to surf on Wednesday is being commended for saving a man and a dog from Lake Superior. 

Darby Voeks, 26, left the Twin Cities at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday to surf, catching waves all over Duluth. But as he was ending his day at Park Point, a woman in a wheelchair approached him in the shipping canal and asked for help — her dog had gotten off their leash and jumped into Lake Superior, the Duluth Police Department said on Facebook. And the woman's friend had jumped in to rescue the Australian shepherd but was also needing help.

Voeks ran over 50 feet to locate the dog and person, jumping in the water to save them both. He got them both out of the water by the time police officers and the fire department arrived on the scene. 

"Other than being cold and shaken up, both were fine and sustained no injuries," the post said.

Voeks has been nominated for the Duluth Citizen Partnership Award, which is given out on rare occasions. "We would make the argument that Darby is a rare individual," the post said, adding, "Darby, you are an incredible person. Thank you for being you and for saving two lives today."

The Duluth News Tribune says the rescue happened around 2 p.m. Wednesday when the waves were cresting at a height of about 6 feet. Voesk said it was a struggle to rescue the man because he wasn't a swimmer and the waves were so extreme. 

"He was exhausted. I don't really know how long he had been in the water at that point. I know several minutes at least, and he was spent," Voeks said, according to the paper, adding that the man, who was the woman's personal assistant, didn't have the strength to climb up the ladder when they reached it. "He was trying to hang on, and another wave kept knocking him off the ladder. It was this whole ordeal." 

Voeks used a life ring with a rope to bring the man back to the ladder and then lifted him from the water with the help of two more people who had come over to help, the Duluth News Tribune adds. Then Voeks got back into the water to rescue the dog, named Ellis. 

The rescue did make Voeks late to meet his girlfriend for their previously scheduled 4:30 p.m. date. Instead, they pushed it back to 7 p.m., the paper notes. In a comment on KBJR 6's Facebook post about the rescue, his girlfriend jokingly commented "Can't believe he's late!" 

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