Russell Springs woman finds kayaker who saved her life

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 3:48 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - 9/30/2021 UPDATE -- On Thursday, 24 hours after this story below aired, a Fish and Wildlife officer reached out to Maria Fuentes to let her know who the man was that saved her life. Fuentes said his name is Matthew Daniel of Dayton, Ohio.

The two have talked and she told WKYT it meant the world being able to tell him just how much his actions meant to her in saving her life. She said he told her the next time he’s in Kentucky they will try to meet up.



Maria Fuentes, a 31-year-old Russell Springs mother of three, is searching for someone very important to her.

“He saved my life, he just showed up out of nowhere,” Fuentes said.

That mystery man was like an angel on the lake. It was Labor Day weekend and Fuentes, along with family and friends, had rented a pontoon at the State Dock on Lake Cumberland.

“We were just about to depart the dock and just go explore the lake and we hadn’t been out for 15 minutes after we left the marina when it all happened,” Fuentes said.

She got up to secure some ropes, lost her balance and accidentally tumbled over the side.

“I kind of went in slow motion when I fell, and just the next thing I know I pop my head up I saw the boat just go over me,” Fuentes said.

What she remembers next saved her life. She saw two kayakers, she thinks one in a green kayak.

“I’ve never seen somebody paddle so fast and he got to me,” Fuentes said.

That kayaker helped get her on the boat. She doesn’t remember a name, only that he said he was a medic and he jumped into action.

“He quickly asked everybody ‘give me towels, give me rags, take your shirt off, if you have a belt’ and he did a tourniquet. He did tell me, ‘we’ve lost your leg, but we are going to save your life,’” Fuentes said.

Fuentes was airlifted from the lake. Her severed leg needed amputation, but she is alive thanks to that stranger.

“I really believe that if it wasn’t for his quick actions that maybe it could have been worse, maybe I could have lost my life,” Fuentes said.

While recovering, Fuentes has been searching. She put out a post on the Lake Cumberland Boaters Facebook page looking for that mystery medic, but so far, she isn’t any closer to finding her hero.

In the meantime she is focused on healing, and the future of one day walking with a prosthetic, and if that kayaker is out there she has a simple message.

“So even if I find this person or not, I will forever be grateful and for be thankful they were there at the right time and helped me save my life,” said Fuentes.

This week Fuentes had a good check up with her doctor and she hopes to start physical therapy soon to get her ready for a prosthetic leg.

Again, if you were near State Dock on Labor Day weekend and saw this accident and know who this kayaker is, please reach out by emailing us at

Fuentes also has a GoFundMe page set up.

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