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Savannah officers rescue drowning woman who jumped from bridge

Published: Feb. 8, 2022 at 5:55 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2022 at 11:17 PM EST
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CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Two Savannah Police Department officers jumped into the water and helped rescue a drowning woman who jumped off the Forest River Bridge on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

According to the police department, around 5:15 p.m. officers were dispatched to the Forest River Bridge, located at Abercorn Street and Heroes Way, after someone witnessed a woman leaning far over the bridge. When officers arrived, the woman had already jumped into the river and could not been seen.

Additional SPD officers, Chatham County Police officers, firefighters and EMS responded to the scene to try to locate the woman.

Residents who lived in the area assisted with the search efforts and allowed officers to search the water from their boats.

Officers heard gurgling and found that the woman was under the water under the dock that some of them were standing on. The police department said officers on the dock attempted to pull her up but were unsuccessful.

Two officers, Sgt. Sharif Lockett and Officer William Fitzpatrick, jumped into the water and collectively worked to pull the woman onto the dock.

Sergeant Sharif Lockett and Officer William Fitzpatrick say they were racing against the clock to save the woman.

“For me, this is definitely one of the top 3 challenges I’ve faced since I’ve been on,” said Sgt. Lockett.

Bodycam footage showing the crucial seconds as officers search for a woman who jumped off a nearby bridge. Someone passing by first noticed the woman leaning against the bridge just seconds before she jumped.

“Oh my god, she just jumped! She just jumped.”

Officers then searched the nearby marsh...and with help from residents in the area, found the woman underneath the dock they were searching from.

“Hey she’s down here.”

Officer Fitzpatrick was first to jump into the freezing water and battled strong currents to plead with the woman to allow officers to let him save her.

“I resorted to please...please let go,” said Officer Fitzpatrick.

Sergeant Lockett noticed his fellow officer was struggling and soon after jumped in to help.

“Fitzy where are you.”

“I felt like I was swimming in the water for 5 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 swimming through jello,” Sgt. Lockett said.

Battling strong currents, the officers say it was hard to keep up.

“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,” said Officer Fitzpatrick.

And quite the dip it was. The woman was eventually taken to an area hospital where she is expected to recover. Sergeant Lockett and Officer Fitzpatrick say while this wasn’t a typical day, if faced with the same challenge in the future, they’d do it again.

WARNING: Video could be difficult to watch for some viewers and is only available to watch on YouTube.

Police say she was treated at the scene by EMS.

“We are so proud of all of the officers involved for their joint rescue actions,” Chief Roy Minter said in a prepared statement. “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.”

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