Maryland police officers recently prevented what could have been a horrible tragedy by braving frigid waters to rescue a family with infants after they crashed into a roadside drainage pond.
Anne Arundel County Officer Lieutenant Dion Tilghman and Officer Seth Ballard responded immediately to rescue the family and their two young children when they lost control of their vehicle and drove off the road into a drainage pond in Severn-Danza Park.
Tilghman, a 26-year-veteran on the force, was patrolling in his cruiser when he got the call.
“We were able to see that the children were OK, and the children were reunited with their family, and that was definitely a good feeling,” Tilghman said after the rescue.
After calling for backup, Tilghman and Ballard stripped off their heavy belts and waded into the water to save the trapped family.
“They were starting to bang on the glass. We could see the van was starting to take on water as well.”
Body-worn camera captured dramatic footage of the rescue. The two officers waded through four feet of cold water to get to the submerged vehicle. They then broke the car windows and extracted a 9-month-old infant and a 3-year-old child.
“I’m sure that’s a terrifying incident. Your vehicle is filling up with water. It’s up to the windows, and you have two men with a sledgehammer breaking open your car windows,” Ballard reflected.
After saving the children, the officers went back for the parents. Fortunately, no one was harmed in the ordeal.
Mother Erica Contreras expressed her gratitude for the heroic officers.
“Thanks to God and to [the police officers] and the firefighters, we are OK. Nothing happened to my girls or us. But the truth is, I did not think I was going to live to tell this story,” Contreras said.
“I’m glad we were there. We were able to render help as quickly as we were. Being a father, I can only imagine how scary it was for the parents to realize how much danger the children were in, especially at such a young age,” Tilghman said.
Ballard said that incidents like these are the reason he became a cop.
“When I took this job, I knew I was gonna help people. That’s what I knew. I deal with car crashes every single day, I deal with incidents every single day where people need help. This incident, it didn’t take much thinking,” Ballard said. “At the end of the day, it was just a regular Friday night just doing my job, and I promise you, any other police officer would do that same.”
Both officers said they had never experienced a water rescue like this in their careers but said that the academy swimming courses prepared them well.
It was later found that the children’s father was driving the car without a license, and he was arrested due to other outstanding warrants.