(CNN) — A Texas deputy went “Tarzan” and pulled a woman and her baby out of a river after flood waters swept their car off the road in San Antonio.
Off-duty Bexar County Deputy Jason Jarvis was on his way to work when the call came over the scanner.
He was less than half a mile away from the river where a woman was clinging to a tree with her infant. Flood waters swept their SUV off the road Wednesday morning and downstream into the Medina River.
Do I go to work or do I go to help? Jarvis thought. He didn’t have to respond to the scene; he’s a detention officer, not a patrol officer, and he was on light duty while recovering from a broken leg.
He decided to go and ended up pulling off a daring rescue. It was a welcome spot of good news in a deadly storm season.
“I had an obligation. This is the job. This is the profession I chose. When there’s trouble, we go help,” he said.
‘Blue in the face’
Jarvis described the rescue in a news conference Wednesday afternoon. Police did not release the woman’s name or details about her condition.
As he scaled down an embankment with a civilian he could hear the lady crying out before he could see her.
When he finally spotted her, she was clinging to a tree with one arm and holding her infant in the other arm. The force of the water had ripped off the child’s clothes and diaper along with most of the woman’s clothes, he said.
“I swam over. I was actually like Tarzan, grabbing branches as I made my way over to her,” he said.
The child was “blue in the face” and shaking uncontrollably. Thoughts of Jarvis’ 6-year old and 3-year old children ran through his mind.
“I told her ‘hand me the baby.’ And she reached over and kind of like tossed her up to me.”
He swam back and handed the child to the civilian standing in shallow water. He swam back for the mother and she clung to his arm as they returned to shallow water.
At one point, he said, he feared for his life. Had he been five more feet into the water he may have gotten swept up by the strong current, he said.
“It wasn’t my position as a law enforcement officer, it was my position as a father, when I went in,” he said.
“I was in the right place at the right time. This outcome could have been much more grim. Thankfully I was there and this outcome turned positive.”
Turn around, don’t drown
Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau praised Jarvis while noting that police put themselves in harm’s way as part of the job.
“Every day our deputies face harm and danger as they work to keep our communities safe. And as we stand here today, there’s a woman and her baby alive because of one of our deputies putting his life at risk to save theirs.”
As heavy rains and floods continue to batter the region, Pamerleau said the incident served as a reminder to heed weather and safety advisories.
If rain is in the forecast and you don’t have to be on the roads, stay home, she said. Even the slightest amount of water on road can carry away a car.
“Turn around, don’t drown,” she said.