A Howard County police officer pulled a 9-year-old girl from a swift current after her foot got stuck behind a rock, leaving her struggling to keep her head above water.
Police say Sgt. Michael Johnson was patrolling on foot with a park ranger near the Savage Mill Trail around 4:15 p.m. Sunday when they heard the little girl screaming.
They found her in shoulder-deep water in the Little Patuxent River with a strong current pushing her downriver.
Johnson called for help from a water rescue team, but couldn't wait because the girl's foot was trapped under a rock, causing the water to push her down. Police say he jumped into the river, where he was picked up by the current but grabbed onto a crate that was lodged between some rocks.
Holding onto the crate to avoid being swept away himself, Johnson lunged forward to free the girl's foot, then pulled her to the edge of the water, police said.
A bystander helped the girl onto the river bank.
"This is an example of the ways in which our officers put their lives on the line every day," said Police Chief William J. McMahon. "We are very proud of Sgt. Johnson for all that he did to ensure this situation had a good outcome."
Johnson is a 16-year veteran of the Howard County Police Department.
Howard county officials say swimming is not allowed in any county park. Authorities offer the following tips if you see someone fall into the water:
- Call 911 immediately.
- Give accurate information about where you saw the victim go in, what the victim was wearing and any notable landmarks you see.
- Do not attach anything to yourself and toss it to a victim in the water. You will be pulled in by the force of the current.