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Fargo man's heroism helps save 76-year-old from drowning

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FARGO-- Kenneth Fletcher is an ordinary guy from Fargo. He spends his days working as a service technician for Advanced Business Methods, and being a long-time Michigan Wolverines fan, mows a large 'M' in his backyard when football season comes around.

But on Saturday, June 16 he was going to have to help with something out of the ordinary when Fletcher was traveling to the Twin Cities to visit his daughter.

Beverly Edith Toso, 76, of Hoffman, Minn., had driven her vehicle off of a bridge being replaced on Interstate 94 over Lake Latoka near Alexandria.

Fletcher and his family and noticed a car driving near the construction area, but figured it was just a construction worker taking a look. As they to closer, he quickly realized this was different.

"We said, 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, this is real' and pretty soon you saw the brake light and then they flew up in the air a little bit then just disappeared. Gone," said Fletcher.

After Fletcher pulled over, he ran to the scene while his wife called 911.

"When I got down there I yelled for people to see if anybody was down there. The trunk was open and the lights were still on, but they were half-submerged in the water. You couldn't see anybody, you couldn't hear anybody. Nothing."

That's when he heard Ben Jarvi, a Douglas County deputy sheriff, from the top of the hill. Jarvi brought a life jacket and a rope to go help Toso.

Fletcher was asked to hold on to the rope that was tied around Jarvi's waist when he swam to save Toso.

"He was about waist to chest deep in the water and when he got to the front door, reached in and said, 'Grab my arm, grab my arm,' and he must have unbuckled her, that's all you can figure. Then he yelled back and said, 'Go ahead and pull,' so I started pulling them both to shore," Fletcher said.

Toso had only three to four inches between the water and roof of her vehicle when she was rescued. She went to the hospital for the night, but left the accident with no injuries.

Fletcher was surprised by the reaction of the woman who drove her car into the lake.

"She seemed kind of calm and relaxed. I was really surprised by that, and when she walked up to me and up the hill a little bit, she seemed all there and no problems. I can't believe she wasn't hurt or anything. That was really a shock," Fletcher said.

"It was so quick, you just do what you can to help them out. Everybody was good, and we just looked at each other and said, 'Wow did this really happen? Is this really happening?' Then we had to get farther up the hill to the top of the road and I helped her up. She couldn't get up there because it was slippery and stuff."

After the event, Fletcher remains grateful for Jarvi's composure.

"The deputy was so calm throughout the thing and just did everything perfect. Thinking back over and over, he did everything he could and never panicked for a minute. It was pretty awesome to see."

And Fletcher's thought on potentially being called a hero?

"I don't know about all that. You just see somebody in trouble and first thought is to help. I guess that's the way I've always been. I know there are millions of people out there that would do the same thing if they would have seen that. I couldn't imagine not stopping and seeing that she wouldn't have made it," he said.