Jeff Hermansen, 40, of Rockford was driving a UPS truck across the bridge around 12:45 p.m. when he noticed the man in the river below. Hermansen hustled to the west bank of the river near the PNC Bank branch and jumped in.
The UPS worker swam approximately 15 yards into river and pulled the man to the shore. The man who jumped was taken to the hospital for a physical and mental evaluation and is expected to be OK.
Police officers and firefighters on the scene said Hermansen's actions were both dangerous and heroic. The Rock River can be treacherous because of the fast current and cold water at this time of year.
"To put his life at risk for another human being that he didn't even know says a lot," Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten said.
Hermansen declined any treatment from rescue workers and got back to his day job after pulling the man from the river. He didn't even cover up with a blanket after swimming through the cold Rock River.
"We tried to get him to headquarters to get him a dry shirt and pants and he said, 'I'm going to keep on my route,'" Bergsten said. Hermansen later had dry clothes brought to him while on his route.
The man who jumped was trying to keep his head beneath the water, but Hermansen flipped him over and kept him upright while he pulled him to shore. Hermansen said he doesn't consider himself a strong swimmer, but went in the river to rescue the man anyway. He did not have much to say for his heroic effort, except that he could not stand by while a man drowned.