A Florida police officer is being celebrated as a hero for her selfless, courageous efforts to rescue a drowning toddler. Recently released body cam footage shows Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer Me’aTia Sanderson, despite being unable to swim, entering a retention pond after being alerted to the young child’s presence and bringing him to safety.
The Daily Wire writes that the “video shows Sanderson rushing to help the child, pulling him out of the water, then performing CPR until paramedics arrived.”
The video begins with Officer Sanderson arriving at an apartment complex, presumably after someone called 9-1-1 to help with the missing toddler, and hears shouts of “Help! Over here!” Sanderson quickly hones in on the location and hurries to a shouting, frantic woman. “Where’s the baby at?” Sanderson asks. “In the pond,” a panicked woman replies, pointing toward the water. “He’s somewhere under there,” she says.
The Daily Wire narrated that the tension-filled seconds show the officer immediately going into the water and even losing the f=video feed as the camera is completely submerged.
Spotting the infant in the water, Sanderson and the woman both rush into the water. “Oh s***, Oh Lord,” Sanderson exclaims as she wades into the pond.
“I’m getting him, I’m getting him,” she continued.
The camera is fully underwater for several seconds as Sanderson can be seen retrieving the baby from the water, then clambering back onto the grass.
“Put him down,” she tells a man standing over the child. Sanderson then performs CPR on the child. “Come on baby,” she says as she compresses the infant’s chest and performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Paramedics arrive shortly afterward.
It is unclear if the second woman in the video was the toddler’s mother, how the toddler ended up in the water, and why the mother waited for police to attempt a rescue.
On its Facebook page, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office commended Officer Sanderson by describing her heroic actions as captured in the body cam video, as well as linking to the video itself.
Ofc. Me’Atia Sanderson joined JSO in March of 2019,” the post read. “As a patrol officer in Zone 4 (Westside), Ofc. Sanderson was working on June 9th of this year when JSO and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were dispatched to an infant drowning in a retention pond. Sanderson was the first to arrive on scene and was alerted that the infant was still in the water.
Ofc. Sanderson, who does not know how to swim herself, without a second’s hesitation, entered the pond to retrieve the child and performed CPR until she was relieved by other responding officers. Her actions, while putting her own life at risk, undoubtedly saved the child’s life.
The woman and child are extremely lucky. All too often, incidents involving bodies of water in Florida that end tragically for the people involved. Earlier this year, an elderly woman fell into a pond near her neighborhood golf course and succumbed to an attack from alligators.
There was then the sadly famous case of a two-year-old wading into a pond on a Disney resort and tragically drowning to death after his father couldn’t pry open an alligator’s mouth or wrestle the child away from it.
Still, for the big news that these stories garner, alligator attacks are rare and deaths even rarer, despite the attention the events receive. Yahoo! News wrote after the elderly woman was killed:
Fatal alligator attacks are rare in Florida, despite the creatures being found throughout the state. The FWC says there are an average of eight unprovoked attacks by alligators a year that require medical treatment. From 1948 to 2021, there have been 442 unprovoked alligator bite incidents in the state, 26 of them resulting in death.
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