Howard County Police Sergeant Jumps into River to Save 9-Year-Old

Police said the girl was trapped under a rock in the Little Patuxent River.

Sgt. Michael Johnson (Credit: Howard County Police Department)
Sgt. Michael Johnson (Credit: Howard County Police Department)
A Howard County police sergeant helped rescue a girl from the Little Patuxent River over the holiday weekend, police said Wednesday.

At 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, Sgt. Michael Johnson, a 16-year Howard County Police Department veteran, was on a foot patrol with a park ranger near the Savage Mill Trail when he heard a girl screaming, according to a statement from the department.

Johnson ran in the direction of the screams and saw a 9-year-old girl, shoulder-deep in water, being swept down the river, police said. The girl told Johnson she was trapped under a rock, according to the report.

The officer notified police dispatch and requested that Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services respond for a swift water rescue, according to the statement.

Then, seeing the girl struggling to keep her head above water, Johnson jumped into the river, police said.

As he was swimming toward her, the officer was picked up by the current so he grabbed onto a crate lodged between rocks to avoid being dragged down, police said.

Johnson lunged toward the girl and freed her trapped foot, then pulled her to the water's edge, where a bystander helped her onto the river bank, according to police.

The child, who had been with adult family members, was evaluated by paramedics at the scene and did not require transport, said Mary Phelan, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department.

"This is an example of the ways in which our officers put their lives on the line every day," Police Chief William J. McMahon said in prepared remarks. "We are very proud of Sgt. Johnson for all that he did to ensure this situation had a good outcome."

The Howard County Recreation and Parks Department and police remind citizens that swimming is not allowed in any county park. Open water swimming is different than swimming in a pool and should be considered highly dangerous because of limited visibility and tidal fluctuations, police added.
Valarie May 29, 2014 at 11:58 AM
You are a great police officer! I had been seeing officers on the internet abusing their authority, and was feeling pretty angry... this made me feel there are good people still out there in the world we live in.
Terri Stafford May 29, 2014 at 01:04 PM
Sgt Michael Johnson is a hero.
setterz54 May 29, 2014 at 02:07 PM
Great job Sgt Johnson!
jnrentz1 June 01, 2014 at 10:10 AM
Thank you Ms. Janney for a heart lifting story about a great police officer. Well done Sergeant Johnson:-)
Linda Hoffecker June 01, 2014 at 02:42 PM
Love these 'good cop' stories! Kudos to you, Sgt Johnson..


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