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Fishing Guide Turned Life Saver

The other day, we blogged about two alumni of Washington and Lee who run a lodge and fly-fishing shop in Idaho and had a close encounter with a grizzly bear. Turns out they’re not the only graduates to be pursuing a career in the wilds of the West, and not the only one to have recently experienced a brush with danger out there. Meet Derek Hutton, a member of Washington and Lee’s Class of 1993.

As recounted in the Driggs, Idaho, Valley Citizen, this summer Derek and two fellow guides from WorldCast Anglers, a fly-fishing outfitter in Idaho and Wyoming, were working on the Teton River when they spotted a man and woman paddling a kayak straight into trouble: a bridge that was closer to the water than usual due to a high, fast-flowing river. As one of Derek’s companions yelled at the couple to alert them, the kayak spilled them into the water. The man floated free of the danger, but the woman was stuck underneath the bridge in an air pocket, water rushing all around her. Hutton secured himself to the bridge with a rope, threw a line into the river and took the plunge.

When he reached the panic-stricken woman, he said, “My name is Derek, and I’m going to get you out of here.” Thanks to the quick thinking and life-saving skills that both Derek and his two companions possessed, the story has a happy ending. You can read the newspaper account here in all its pulse-pounding excitement.

According to Derek’s bio on the WorldCast website, it was a W&L geology field trip to the Tetons and Yellowstone that introduced him to that part of the world. In 2005, he left behind life as a stockbroker and headed west. In the winter, he teaches alpine skiing at the Grand Targhee Resort in Alta, Wyo.