Not all heroes wear capes: Louisiana officer rescues nine people after boat starts to sink, saves drowning child

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NEW ORLEANS, LA – An officer with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries turned what could have been a catastrophic tragedy into a heroic story, at least for the 9 people he saved.

LDWF Sgt. Stephen Rhodes was patrolling a Jefferson Parish beach at Grand Isle on Saturday evening.

He noticed a boat taking on water as it was trying to exit the rock jetties. Aided by some good Samaritans who gave him a ride to his truck in an ATV, he was able to quickly deploy his patrol boat. He was then able to maneuver out to the troubled vessel.

Arriving, he was able to see eight people on the hull. After getting several of them on his watercraft, he was informed of a 7-year-old girl in the water. Flagging down another boat to hold his in place, Rhodes went into the water in search of the little girl.

Her brother told him that she was wearing a life jacket, but it was actually what caused her to be trapped under the boat.

“When he said that, I knew there were only two options: She slipped the jacket because it was oversized, or the lifejacket has her trapped under the boat,” Rhodes said.

When Rhodes found her, she was unresponsive.

He was able to return her to his boat where he began life-savings measures. He was able to revive the child, getting her breathing again.

He took the family to the Bridgeside Marina, where they were met by an EMS crew. She was originally being transported to Lady of the Sea General Hospital, but paramedics say they lost her pulse and she stopped breathing.

She was then airlifted to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans. She is expected to make a full recovery.

“We are extremely proud of the actions of Sgt. Rhodes. He did an exceptional job of using good judgment and his training to help save the life of this young girl and the other occupants in the capsized vessel,” LDWF Col. Chad Hebert said in a statement.

“Would also like to thank all of the good Samaritans that assisted in this successful rescue. Sgt. Rhodes was on patrol by himself, and these good Samaritans helped him perform this rescue faster. That time saved probably made it possible to resuscitate the young girl.”

Rhodes said there must have been a small amount of air under the boat with the child, given that it took hm nearly ten minutes to reach her.

“That’s way longer than any person should be deprived of oxygen,” he said.

To make the story even more miraculous than it may already seem, Rhodes was not supposed to be at Grand Isle that day. His shift had him assigned 28 miles away at Golden Meadow.

He made his way to Grand Isle after receiving complaints about individuals violating fish catch limits. He was actually writing a citation when he noticed the boat in distress.

He watched for a second and believing that the boat was now in safer water, went back to writing the ticket. A beachgoer alerted him that the boat was capsizing. He then started for his vehicle, which was parked roughly 1,000 yards away.

That is more than half a mile.

Olympians cover 800 meters in about 1:45. This was another 114 meters. The world’s greatest runners on a track would take well over two minutes to cover that distance.

This was an officer in duty uniform running down a beach. The fact that the men in the ATV saw him and aided in his travel realistically may have been the difference between life or death.

“There’s a ton of little things that happened that gave her the perfect opportunity to survive,” Rhodes told NOLA.com. “If I talk plainly, God was not ready for her. I had front row seats to a miracle.”

Is it possible Rhodes was unaware that he was part of that miracle?

With the humility often found in people who do heroic things, Rhodes said he didn’t want his efforts and actions to be the story.

“If no one in the world knew I did anything, that little girl is alive, and at the end of the day, that’s everything,” Rhodes said.

Not all heroes wear capes: Louisiana officer rescues nine people after boat starts to sink, saves drowning child

Heroic actions of police and good Samaritans save a woman from a submerged vehicle (but cops are evil)

GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ – It goes without saying for many people, but we will go ahead and say it anyway. Not all heroes wear capes.

Three New Jersey police officer jumped into action, literally, after a woman drove through a fence and wound up submerged in the Delaware River with her vehicle upside down.

Responding officers were quick to react.

Philadelphia’s CW 57 and CBS 3 spoke with the officers and shared the body-worn camera footage.

“He said ‘get in.’ I said ‘OK.’ And I started taking off my vest, my belt, my shoes and he lowered me in the water, and I started ripping open doors,” Officer Sean Gartland said.

Gartland was first on the scene and one of three officers that went into the water in an attempt to rescue the driver. He was joined by Detective Sgt. Carlos Depoder and officer John Brecheski.

Once in the river, they began searching for the driver. Depoder was the first to find the woman.

“I started pulling the victim out of the vehicle. The other officers, Officers Brecheski and Gartland, came over. We brought her over, there was a large log, almost like a tree that was floating right in the water. We propped her up onto the log while I conducted some chest compressions,” Depoder said. 

At that point, Brecheski saw someone else in the water. It was three men in a boat. They had been working on a nearby barge and saw the event unfolding. The came over on the boat to see how they could be of assistance.

Their presence turned out to matter. The officers and the victim were about 10 feet from the top of the retaining wall. The boat actually made it easier to evacuate the victim and get her to a local hospital.

“If it wasn’t for those good Samaritans on the boat, we would’ve been in there for a long time. We couldn’t get her up because the bulkhead was so high. They came in, they helped us out. They had no problem jumping in just like we did,” Gartland said.

All six have been hailed as heroes.

“I’m glad we were there, but as a hero? No. The cops, they were the heroes right there,” said Gene Blemings, one of the men in the boat. “They were in the water for a good 10 minutes and they worked hard.”

Much like the men in the boat, the officers balked at the notion that they were heroes.

“I don’t think we’re heroes, I think we did our job. When you’re in this job, you swear an oath. You swear you’re gonna protect and help people and that’s exactly what we did,” Sgt. Depoder said.

But Blemings and the others disagreed.

“They had just brought her up out of the car and they were holding her pretty much on their bodies while they were floating giving her chest compressions,” he told reporters.

Lt. J Flood of the Gloucester City Police Department acknowledged that their actions required courage.

“They definitely jumped in at their own peril,” he said. “There are strong currents in the Delaware River.” 

While the department and the officers were quick to point out that they were just doing what they believed was the right thing to do, they are recognizing Blemings, Stratis Tiniakos and Michael Natrin for their actions.

As for the woman the rescued, she is reported to have regained consciousness at the hospital and was in critical condition but is recovering.

Investigators were still working to determine the cause of the accident.

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Not all heroes wear capes: Savannah police officers swim through freezing water to rescue woman

SAVANNAH, GA – Officers from the Savannah Police Department ignored their own personal safety after a woman fell into freezing water on February 8th when they jumped in to save her.

The Savannah Police Department released body camera footage which shows the officers working to save the woman who had jumped into the water from the Forest River Bridge.

Officers and members of the fire department can be seen getting into the freezing water and swimming to the woman.

Officers responded to the area of the Forest River Bridge near Abercorn Street and Heroes Way just after 5 pm after receiving a report of a woman leaning over the bridge. As Savannah Police officers arrived on the scene, they could not locate her.

As the officers searched for the woman, they heard gurgling from underneath a nearby dock. As they investigated, they learned it was the woman who was clearly having a hard time breathing.

Savannah police officers worked to pull the woman out of the freezing water, but those efforts were unsuccessful. Knowing that it was only a matter of time until the woman would succumb to the freezing temperatures, Savannah police Sergeant Sharif Lockett and Officer William Fitzpatrick decided to act.

Officer Fitzpatrick was the first to get into the water and battle the strong currents. Officer Fitzpatrick said that he was having a hard time and finally resorted to pleading with the woman to let him save her. He said:

“I resorted to please…please let go.”

Officer Fitzpatrick said that the woman was pulling back to get away from him, but he refused to give up on her. He said:

“When I was trying to get a hold of her, she was stuck, and I couldn’t get her loose. The dock was rustling with the water. She was pulling back, I was getting pulled under.”

Sergeant Lockett realized that Officer Fitzpatrick was having a hard time in the freezing water and strong current, so he decided to jump in and help. When he jumped in, he can be heard saying:

“Fitzy, where are you?”

The sergeant added:

“I felt like I was swimming in the water for five minutes when really I was only swimming for like 15 seconds. The water just felt so dense when my body was in it at least. I felt like I was swimming though jello.”

Sergeant Lockett and Officer Fitzpatrick were able to pull the woman to safety with the help of the fire department and local boaters in the area. The woman was pulled out of the freezing water and treated by emergency medical personnel that were on the scene.

Medics transported the woman to a nearby hospital where she was treated for exposure to the freezing water. The Savannah Police Department reported the woman is expected to recover from her injuries.

Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter released a statement on the incident and noted how proud he was of the officers jumping into the water to save a woman who was in distress. He said:

“We are so proud of all of the officers involved for their joint rescue actions. It was definitely a team effort for all officers, first responders, and citizens involved – from the extensive search to the rescue. We know that had these officers not responded and acted so quickly that this could have had a tragic outcome.”

After the hero’s rescue efforts, Sergeant Lockett noted how difficult it was to fight the strong currents and get the woman to safety. He said:

“For me, this is definitely one of the top 3 challenges I’ve faced since I’ve been on [the force].”

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