Hadn't heard of the Skutnik story, thanks for sharing Tom.
The day of the Air Florida crash, the Potomac was completely iced up, and the thick ice was broken up by the debris from the plane. Hundreds of people were watching from the 14th street bridge in the driving snowstorm, and dozens more helplessly from the nearby shoreline as a small handful of stunned survivors fought a desperate battle to stay afloat. When it became clear that the one woman was too cold to grip the rope dangled from the helicopter, only Skutnik had the cajones to genuinely risk his life by going into the frigid water, swim out around the jagged ice blocks and haul her back.
I'm pretty sure there was another guy (Arland D. Williams Jr) who grabbed the helicopter rope and with it helped one or two other survivors to the shore, but he then succumbed to the cold and did not make it. Not all heroes survive, as we know.
Fascinating story, and one of the incredible days for all the wrong reasons in DC.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Florida_Flight_90