DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) — Saving lives runs in the Duncan family.

Geoff Duncan has been a paramedic for 29 years. His son Ryne followed in his footsteps this past September.

The two work for different ambulance services — Geoff for Decatur Ambulance Service and Ryne for Lifestar Ambulance Service.

But on the night of Nov. 30, they had to work side-by-side.

"It was cold," Ryne Duncan said. "I'm not going to deny. I was pushing ice chunks away."

The Duncans were driving home from a family dinner when they stumbled upon an SUV crash in Lake Decatur.

"On duty or off duty, we're still paramedics," Geoff Duncan said.

The driver of the vehicle went into cardiac arrest, causing the SUV to veer into the icy waters of Lake Decatur. He later died, but two young girls were also inside.

One got out and swam to safety. The other remained trapped inside.

Without hesitation, Ryne and Geoff jumped in.

"She was scared," Ryne Duncan said. "There's no denying that and as a father myself, I wasn't going to leave her alone."

"When you're standing there on the bank and you can hear a little eight-year-old girl who's screaming, you can't stand by," Geoff Duncan said.

Although they were off duty, Ryne and Geoff comforted her until other first responders arrived.

"There wasn't anything [that was] going to stop me from getting after it and making sure she was okay," Ryne Duncan said.

The City of Decatur honored the Duncans and the others who braved the cold waters to pull her out, awarding them medals and issuing a proclamation before the Dec. 17 council meeting.

"It's something I'll keep with me," Geoff Duncan said. "But the honor lies in the fact we saw those two little girls come out...I was proud and knowing [Ryne and I] did this together was pretty special."

Anyone who has someone to nominate for the Spirit of Central Illinois award should email Deron Molen ( or click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.