Jonathan Bauer of Berlin, Maryland, was hailed as a hero Friday after having rescued a 2-year-old girl from the waters of Assawoman Bay in Ocean City following a multi-vehicle collision last weekend.
Mr. Bauer was driving on the Route 90 bridge that leads in and out of the oceanside town Sunday, May 2, when his car was hit in the five-vehicle crash that nearly resulted in the girl drowning.
Speaking about it publicly for the first time, Mr. Bauer recalled diving off the bridge — a distance of roughly 30 feet — after learning the girl had been ejected from another vehicle into the bay.
“I saw the car seat and some other items, and then about six feet away from the car seat was a little girl,” Mr. Bauer said during a news conference. “She was on her back, completely floating, head completely out of the water, arms moving, legs kicking in a little pink dress.”
Mr. Bauer, a vice president of information services for Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin, said he took off his shoes and jumped feet-first into the water after seeing the girl flip onto her face.
“I popped up, swam over to the girl, lifted her out of the water and looked at her,” said Mr. Bauer. “Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open, and then I put her against my shoulder, very high, and then aggressively pat her on the back. And within seconds she spit up a bunch of water, a lot of water, and then started coughing and then took a deep breath. And then for the next five minutes, four minutes, I really couldn’t tell you, I just kept patting her. And she would cough and then spit up a little bit more water. “
A family out on their pontoon boat then brought Mr. Bauer and the girl on board and transported them to first responders. The child was then flown to a local hospital and has since been released.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and first responders who also spoke at the press conference praised Mr. Bauer for his deeds and presented him a plaque expressing their gratitude for his “heroic actions.”
“You are a hero,” said first responder Willian Savage, an assistant chief for the Ocean City Volunteer First Department: “We’re proud of you and the community’s proud of you,” he told Mr. Bauer.
“What he did was without question a heroic thing and very courageous thing, to jump over the railing, 25-30 feet, into open water,” agreed assistant fire Chief John Fischer.
Mr. Bauer had been driving on the Route 90 bridge with his 13-year-old daughter, Ava, when the crash occurred. He dove into the bay after making sure that she was safe and asking her to call for help.
Appearing at the news conference alongside his wife and daughter, Mr. Bauer said he did not have any special training or military experience. His family also said he is afraid of heights.
“He would never go on the Ferris wheel with me,” his daughter told attendees.