Hero jumps off 30 ft cliff to rescue boy from St. Croix River - KMSP-TV

Hero jumps off 30 ft cliff to rescue boy from St. Croix River

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TAYLORS FALLS, Minn. (KMSP) -

The current of the St. Croix River was strong, but that didn't deter Ken Hawj from jumping 30 feet from a cliff into the cold water below to rescue an 11-year-old boy who fell in on Sunday. 

"I believe some type of spiritual Gods pushed me to do something," he said.

Hawj believes there is a reason he was overlooking the St. Croix River in Taylors Falls, Minn. over Memorial Day weekend. He watched as Calvin Vang tripped on a rock while fishing at a scenic boat landing and fell in. 

"I saw the little boy yelling and drown in the heavy current," Hawj said. "He fell down there and his uncle was chasing him."

Vang's uncle, identified by police as Touhu Vang, jumped in after his nephew without knowing that upstream, Hawj was taking off his close, running along the shore, up a hill and would eventually dive in too.

"I think nothing, I just say to myself, 'I don't have to be afraid,' and just try to get that little boy," Hawj recalled.

Hawj plunged far below the surface and came up just 30 feet away from the boy. He was able to get the boy back to the shore and his family -- and for that, he is being heralded as a hero.

"I am glad the little boy is alive," Hawj said. "I don't look at myself that way. I thought that little boy's life had a long way to go and a lot of things to do. For me, I'm 46 years old. I have to save that boy."

Hawj's biggest regret is that he wasn't able to get to the boy's uncle in time, and identified by police as Touhu Vang Vang is still missing.

"I'm so happy I was able to save that boy, but I feel sad his uncle disappeared," Hawj said. "So sad for his family."

Read more: Man missing after jumping into St. Croix River to rescue nephew


In the two days since the water rescue, Hawj is still praying for the family. Around his neck, he wears a cross that he never takes off. In fact, before coming to the river, Hawj had gone to church and listened to the priest talk about giving up yourself to help others. He never imagined he would do so that very afternoon.

"I did not think that moment what I'm doing," he said. "I just tried saving that little boy. I did it."

WATER SAFETY RESOURCES

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INVESTIGATORS: Drowning is Silent

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