By Paul Thompson
September 23, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – A local man who nearly drowned last month during a flash flood was reunited on Friday, September 23 with the Northeast teenagers who saved his life.
Kansas City, Missouri postal worker Ed Shutt was trying to get to work on the night of Friday, August 26, when his red Dodge Charger got stuck in high water at the intersection of Truman and Askew. The ever-rising currents had reached nearly six feet high at the nearby underpass, and Shutt – who has a heart condition and can’t swim – was growing panicked. His car was inoperable and the pressure from the rising water was keeping him from opening the driver’s side door.
“I was in a state of shock because I ground the car out, and I was trying to steer it off to the side,” said Shutt.
Thankfully, three courageous Northeast teenagers risked their own well-being to pull Shutt to safety: Brothers Matt and Michael Rich, 19 and 16 years old respectively, and 13-year-old friend Josue Tijerina. That night the three friends spent two hours at the precarious intersection, wading through chest-deep water to help stranded vehicles.
“I like to help people; it’s just how I was raised,” Matt said after the incident. “It makes me feel good to know that they will be able to take another breath the next morning because I helped them.”
Shutt, for one, has no doubt that his life was saved that night.
“I’ll tell you one thing: I would have drowned,” said Shutt, voice cracking with emotion. “When you read about all the stuff in the paper about people not knowing each other and trying to hurt each other all over the country, and then you see three people like them…You’ve got a story of three people that were out all night rescuing perfect strangers rather than trying to hurt perfect strangers.”
While Shutt says that he remained in a state of shock in the aftermath of his rescue, he later felt compelled to offer Matt, Michael and J.J. a proper thank you for saving his life. Having read stories in the news about their brave actions, he reached out to arrange a meeting. The young men agreed, and Shutt came prepared with multiple bags of Kansas City Chiefs-themed gifts.
While the heroes graciously accepted the offerings, they said they were only doing what they thought was right.
“To be honest, I really didn’t do it for a reward or anything,” said 16-year-old Michael. “I did it because people needed help.”
Matt added that he has also been thanked by an individual he pulled from a red truck.
“I ran into him at Save-a-Lot, and he said thanks,” said Matt.
Nearly a month after the harrowing moment, Shutt is able to make light of the incident.
“I lost my Charger, but it had a happy ending,” said Shutt. “I now have a 2016 Dodge Dart.”