Overland Park family finds hero who rescued man from Longview Lake

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The man on a white boat with a golden dog has been found.

An Overland Park family searching for a man who saved their father at Longview Lake found him. Social media and FOX4’s report helped put the pieces together.

That stranger’s name is Paul Donnelly, but the Knox family calls him hero.

“We all are a big part in that, everybody is. But yes it’s an amazing feeling,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly and dog Zebedee frequent Longview Lake. After playing fetch, they went for a spin on the boat, and Donnelly noticed a jet ski in the middle of the lake — no riders on top, no orange flag.

“As I got closer I noticed two people in the water, one woman in distress in the water,” Donnelly said. “She was screaming for help.”

It was Tracy Knox and her 51-year-old husband. Dennis was unconscious. A life jacket and Tracy treading water were the only two things holding him up.

“It’s amazing that he was around at that point in time,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe said.

Donnelly jumped into action. He pulled Dennis up on the boat.

“He was unconscious, so I just decided to try to revive him,” Donnelly said. “And at that point there were some other boaters that were close enough who were approaching.”

While Donnelly was doing CPR on Dennis, Zebedee had eyes on Tracy who was still in the water.

“The dog was kind of over near her and kind of putting her paw out,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly has never taken an official CPR class but said he remembered a lesson from when he got his boating license. Lowe believes that’s a lesson for others who get out on the water.

“Taking it seriously when you’re taking those tests, taking the boating test — it’s important, and this case proves that,” Lowe said.

Lowe admires the tight-knit boating community that looks out for each other.

Fate — and a little digging — brought these two groups together again.

“I spent the subsequent days googling his name just to see if there was any kind of information,” Donnelly said.

He found new articles, which led him to the Knox family and the husband — who’s also a father and grandfather — that Donnelly saved.

“Dennis, I’m really glad you made it, and I hope you recuperate well,” Donnelly said. “I’m happy for you. I’m happy for all of you.”

Dennis still has a fractured sternum and several fractured ribs. They plan to reunite when he’s feeling better.

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