Tammy Bossard, her husband, Brian, and their two children—infant Charlotte and 23-month-old Kennedy—were returning from dinner on Aug. 19 when their boat slammed into power lines, knocking over a utility pole. The force of the impact capsized the boat, causing all four occupants to be ejected from the boat and into the water.
“I had Charlotte in my hands still and the boat had flipped and I climbed on top of the boat,” Bossard told CBS Orlando affiliate WKMG. The mother then realized Kennedy was missing and began frantically searching for the toddler in the dark waters. Dorothy Dixon, a nearby boater, joined the search efforts.
“We grabbed them and momma kept swimming and looking,” Dixon said. “The mom and dad did everything they could. They were looking under the boat.”
With the family still unable to recover the toddler after 13 minutes of searching, Bossard used her water-soaked cellphone to dial 911.
Officer Matthew Rush and Cpl. Alan Worthy arrived on the scene near the Hubert Humphrey Bridge at 10:40 p.m. and began searcing for the young girl, whose cries were heard but her whereabouts were unknown.
“It was very hard to see. My hand in front of me, could barely see that,” Worthy said, reported Florida Today. “…We know she’s under there, we’re just not sure where and it was a very time-consuming process diving in from different points of the boat.”
After 44 minutes and several dives later, the officers found Kennedy was found floating in a life vest under the boat inside an air pocket. All were taken to a local hospital for treatment.
“Usually, instances like this don’t turn out like that,” Rush said. “A boating accident that severe, with that much damage, could’ve been a lot worse. The air pocket in the boat and the life jacket saved her life.”
Bossard expressed gratitude to Rush and Worthy for saving her child’s life.
“Thank you for saving my baby and saving our world,” she said.
The Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) is handling the crash investigation.
In addition to the Cocoa Police Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, FWC, Cocoa Fire Rescue, and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office also assisted with the rescue.