Little girl saved from near-drowning by Newark police officers

Tuesday, July 10, 2018
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N.J. Burkett has more after a little girl nearly drowned in Newark.

NEWARK, N.J. -- Two police officers in Newark are being hailed as heroes for jumping into action and saving a toddler's life.

The call came in Sunday after a 2-year-old girl nearly drowned in a backyard swimming pool at a home on Third Avenue East.

A family friend was watching her at the time, but the little girl became tangled in an inflatable toy and somehow could not lift her head out from underneath.

The officers got to the scene in about 90 seconds. The rescue was captured on body-cam video.

Shaquille Johnson and his partner, Malikul Aziz told WABC it all happened so quickly, that there wasn't time to think.

Both officers relied on their training and kept calm and used firm slams on the little girl's back right between the shoulder blades to force water out of her lungs so she could breathe again.

The officers knew the whole time that irreversible brain damage sets in after four minutes without oxygen, and the child would not survive past that point, but thankfully, their life-saving efforts worked.

The officers told WABC what it was like rolling up on the family's home where the frantic father met them in the street.

"He came straight to us, and within a second of getting out of the vehicle, the child was in my arms," said officer Johnson, "We flipped her over onto her stomach, onto my knee and began to apply back taps to the child."

The toddler was fighting to survive.

"Everything came out all over my arms, his arms - but she was fine, so that's the important thing," Johnson added.

"Not only was it a breath for her, it was a breath for us as well, too, where we could say, 'OK she's in stable condition, she's going to make it," said officer Aziz.

The officers said the little girl was hospitalized briefly and is now home with her family.

Her father praised the officers knowing his little girl could have drowned if it weren't for them.

"It's something that just happened in a quick second," her father said. "And it's really difficult for me - it's the moment why I can't even sleep just thinking of what happened."

Now he is warning other parents to never take their eyes off their children.