Maryland father Jonathan Bauer is being hailed a hero for his heroic rescue of a toddler from Assawoman Bay in Ocean City, Maryland. Bauer was driving home from running errands on the Ocean City bridge with his 13 year old daughter when he was involved in a multi-car pileup on an overpass. He checked on his daughter and got out of his vehicle to help someone trying to get out of the trunk that was hanging over the side of bridge.
That’s when he heard people yelling for help and saw the 2 year old girl who had been ejected from another car involved in the pileup. Bauer said the girl was in the water about six feet away from her car seat floating perfectly on her back, head completely out of the water, arms moving and legs kicking, in a little pink dress. In a matter of seconds the little girl flipped over on her stomach with her face in the water so Bauer jumped 25 feet into the water.
Bauer said he reached her just as she was starting to sink and he lifted her out of the water. Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open so he put her against his shoulder and aggressively patted her on the back. Within seconds she spit up a bunch of water, started coughing and took a deep breath. Bauer said “I just kept patting her and she would cough and then spit up a little bit more water.”
Two good samaritan boaters, Joe and Alayna Oertel, had seen the accident and headed to Bauer when they saw him jump into the water. When the Oertel’s reached Bauer he handed the toddler to the boaters and she was airlifted to a local hospital for treatment. The Oertel’s recalled pulling Bauer and the girl to safety during a Today show appearance. “He didn’t say anything. He was just so shocked of what happened.” said Alayna. Joe added that Bauer “was in some tremendous shock himself. It says a lot about some people’s demeanor, just doing the right thing when you got to do it.”
Police say the girl is expected to make a full recovery. Seven others in the crash have since been treated at hospitals and released. Initially after the accident, Bauer did not want to be identified. Ocean City emergency responders met with Jonathan Bauer, who shared his story publicly for the first time since the crash May 2.
Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan and Ocean City Fire Chief Richard Bowers called Bauer a “humble hero” for putting his own life on the line by plunging into the shallow water from that high up. “What he did was without question a heroic thing, and very courageous thing to jump over the railing, down 25 to 30 feet into open water,” Bowers said.
Bauer’s wife said “I can’t say how proud I am of him. It doesn’t surprise me. If you know him, that is something he would do.”