Barnesville cop saves baby from drowning

So…God put me in a good place yesterday morning. After working patrol all night, I decided I'd head to the Barnesville Park Lake for a little kayak fishing. I almost didn't go because I was tired, but I felt like there was a driving force telling me to go anyways. I loaded up the kayak and went. While I was on the far side of the lake (not catching anything), I heard someone screaming for help near the area my truck was parked at. I began rowing as fast as I could, but it took me a few minutes to get there…. I had no idea what I was about to walk up on. Here is the footage from my dashcam, which just-so-happened to catch the entire event. I edited the video to shorten it up a bit.I do not know who any of these people are, but I am so thankful that God kept us all safe and gave me the strength to help them!

Posted by Andrew Stewart on Saturday, June 8, 2019

BARNESVILLE — Barnesville Police Officer Andrew Stewart was at the right place and the right time last Friday, and a nine-month-old boy is still alive thanks to his efforts and the quick reaction of the child’s grandmother.

Julie Webb of Barnesville was walking with the baby in a stroller at Barnesville Parks and Recreation Center, as captured by the motion-activated dash-cam in Stewart’s vehicle, when she stopped and briefly let go of the stroller. The stroller rolled down an embankment and she hurried after it and the child. Close to 36,000 people have viewed the video on social media as of Wednesday.

“She was on a grade and I don’t think she really realized the momentum of the stroller was going to continue,” Stewart said. The stroller began rolling down the embankment in the space of about a second. “You see the stroller disappearing out of the camera’s sight, and you see her going in after it.”

Stewart was off-duty at the time and fishing in a kayak at the park lake when he heard the noise.

“I had just gone fishing Friday and I had been out on the water when I had heard a woman begin crying for help. It took me about five minutes to get across the lake (paddling into the wind) from where I was to where she located. That’s when I realized she was pretty much trapped over the embankment area beside the water’s edge where the water is fairly deep. She was holding up a stroller at the time,” he said.

“When I started going down over th embankment, I noticed that the stroller was actually upside-down and there was still a little baby buckled in with the seat belt restraint system on the stroller, and the baby was … dangling upside down and the baby’s face was bright red, but the baby was conscious,” he said. “I assured her that I was going to turn the baby rightside-up and work my way up the hill side. … That took a couple minutes just because of how steep the embankment was.”

Once the baby was safe, Stewart was able to call 911.

“I managed to go back down over the embankment. (Webb) was actively slipping into the water. I reassured her as she grabbed my hand that I wouldn’t let go and I pulled her up,” he said. Assistance arrived while they were working their way up the embankment.

He said the baby suffered a few scrapes from the thorns, but otherwise there were no injuries to the three of them.

Stewart himself seemed stunned at the confluence of events that brought him to the right place and time, adding that after a long night of patrolling he had been undecided about whether he would visit the lake that morning.

“I got off at 7 a.m. having just worked a 12-hour shift. It was windy, there were 10 to 20-mile and hour wind gusts, so the conditions to be on a kayak out in the middle of a lake weren’t ideal, and I had almost had talked myself out of not going at all,” he said.

He said the events happened quickly.

“There was no time to think. There was no time to be scared, really,” he said.

“One visual I’ll never forget was just seeing the baby. My worst fears were that the baby … had been strangling on the seat restraint, or that it had hit its head in the fall, but he wasn’t even crying,” Stewart said. “When I got him to the top, that’s when he kind of realized that I was a stranger.. … It’s really a miracle, there being such a delicate baby involved and nobody got hurt.”

Stewart also praised Webb’s quick reaction.

“A lot of people have been heralding me as the hero in this, but with that stroller toppling end-over-end down that embankment, she managed to get in front of it and prevent it from rolling into the lake. Had it rolled into the lake, I have no doubt that this stroller would have started sinking.

“With the baby buckled in and the stroller sinking, there would have been some sort of tragedy. … The fact that she was able to get down that hillside was a feat in itself.”

Stewart said that even his choice of footwear that day proved to be the very thing the situation would demand.

“The strangest part of the whole thing was that I wore a specific type of trail running shoe,” he said. “I normally don’t wear it fishing when I’m going to be in the kayak. … They really made all the difference in being able to scale the embankment.

“The whole thing was just a miracle.”

Stewart said he decided to share the video online to try and counter the more tragic stories of today.

“The news is filled up these days with nothing but tragedy,” he said. “This was one of those things that was the exact opposite.”

Stewart recently visited Webb and her family and is happy to report that the baby is doing fine.

Webb could not be reached for comment.

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