'Thank you for saving my life': 72-year-old gets the chance to thank his rescuers

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It was Feb. 28, around 11 p.m. when 72-year-old Bob Betts got into his car to run an errand, became disoriented, got lost and crashed.

The 911 call came in just after 3 a.m.

“Originally, it was just a car crash into some driveway with no one around,” said Deputy Gordy Vitek, of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office. “And by the time we got there, we figured out something else was going on.”

“It’s been said that if I had been there for another half hour, I wouldn’t be talking to you today,” said Betts in a voicemail to the deputies he credits with saving his life.

For more than three hours, Betts tried to find help before hypothermia began taking over.

“Why did I get out of the vehicle and walk? I couldn’t drive. I was stuck. I’ve asked myself that over and over, but it’s a dementia thing. I was goofy in the head,” Betts said.

With sub-zero wind chills, deputies Ehren Lentsch, Jacob Bayer and Vitek knew they had to act fast.

“We went to the car and we were able to find footprints out of the driver’s side door that kind of went around the truck,” Vitek added.

He recalled going around the vehicle and finding footprints that wrapped around a house. On the other side, they found Betts.

“He was covered in frostbite,” Vitek said. “Grabbed some blankets that I grabbed from a different home owner earlier thinking that when we find this guy, we’re going to want tow arm him up quick.”

“Bob [Betts] was in rough shape,” Bayer recalled. “He was in probably some of the final stages of hypothermia. He was paradoxically undressing. He had a really low heart rate, low respirations, he was shivering uncontrollably.”

Betts was taken to HCMC where he and his rescuers parted ways.

Five months later, however, Bob walked in to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

“The receptionist gave me their cell phone, their voicemails, so I am going to leave a voicemail for each of them,” Betts said.

For Betts, it still feels like yesterday.

“Hearing him talk and thanking us, I was pretty emotional, I’m not going to lie. It was one of the best voicemails I’ve ever got in my life,” Lentsch said.

Betts is now a man forever grateful.

“Thank you for saving my life,” he said in the voicemail.