A harrowing river rescue at Wamego saved the life of a nine-year-old girl yesterday afternoon.
Two officers and a Good Samaritan managed to pull the child to safety from the swift current of the Kansas River. The chilling scene was captured on video with the use of an on-officer camera.
“She wasn’t going to be able to hold on much longer,” Wamego officer Derek Gray told Kansas First News.
The video is remarkable: Wamego officers and another man pulled 9-year- old Kayla Hardie from the rushing waters of the Kansas Rver Sunday afternoon.
“I remember hearing child in the water. From there it just happened,” Mike Connelly said.
A grandfather, Connelly didn’t hesitate when Kayla’s sister aerial frantically knocked at the door. The 17-year-old ran to show Mike and his son-in-law where her sister was, meanwhile, his daughter called 9-1-1.
“Surprisingly quickly the emergency responders were there, and they were right behind me,” Connelly recounted. “At that point i just tried to stay out of the way and assist if I could.”
Officer Gray quickly waded out into the water while Officer Jason Powell and Connelly stood ready to help. As Gray tried to reach the girl, Connelly attempted to throw a flotation device to her.
“She grabbed on to that, and I told her you’re holding on for both of us and then grabbed her around the waist and tried to swim into the current as they tried to pull us back to the shore,” Gray explained.
Connelly and Powell pulled them to safety.
According to Chief Michael Baker, Aerial and Kayla were playing on Cat Creek Circle when the 9-year-old fell in. Her sister jumped in to try and save her, but both were swept nearly a mile-and-a-half downstream.
“The older girl after sometime swam to the shore and made it up to the neighbors house and they called 911,” Officer Powell said.
The girls estimate they were in the water nearly an hour-and-a-half before help arrived. Police say the rescue only took a matter of minutes. Neither girl was injured.
Chief Baker says when he took over more than a decade ago he assessed the equipment officers had. He ordered flotation devices and had them placed in the patrol cars. This is the first time in 10 years they have been used.