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Heroic officers relive water rescue

Rochester, N.Y . Neither Dave Pearson nor Steven Mitchell are trained swimmers, but that didnt matter on Friday night.

Pearson and Mitchell are Rochester Police officers; they were dispatched to Charlotte pier Friday night for a call of a capsized boat.

Upon arrival, they noticed four children in Lake Ontario, more than fifty yards offshore.

One of them was an eight-year-old girl.

Three of the kids looked ok, explained officer Pearson.

But the girl was struggling amid high waves and intensely turbulent waters.

I saw her kind of struggling to catch her breath, said Mitchell. And getting swept underneath the waves. At one point she did scream.

That is when the officers knew someone had to go in.

He made the decision on his own, said Pearson of Mitchell.

Officer Steven Mitchell dove into the lake with little regard for his own safety.

When you jump in, you dont kind of think about yourself, said Mitchell.

But after a few moments he realized just how tricky the waters would be to navigate.

He was able to reach the girl who latched onto him, but the pair were swept underneath the water numerous times.

I started praying a little bit, said Mitchell. God, get me back to that pier, I got to make sure she gets back on that pier so she makes it out of here.

These were tense moments for all three people.

He was out there for thirty seconds to maybe grab her and another minute in, but it felt like an hour just watching them as the waves just kept crashing over them, said Pearson.

After a couple of minutes, Mitchell was able to get his partner who was hanging onto piping along the bottom of the pier. Pearson pulled both the girl and his partner out of the vicious waters and brought them to the pier.

Mitchell was exhausted and had swallowed quite a bit of water.

Im just glad she was able to get out ok, it was a relief, said Mitchell.

Ive never seen a storm that violent come in so quickly and waves like that, along the pier, added Mitchell.

The eight-year-old girl who was rescued quickly ran back toward what the officers believed to be family or friends on the shore.

They didnt get her name, but said they would welcome the chance to meet her.

As for the boaters, they were able to reach the pier on their own. By the time police rescued the child, the boaters were on dry land.

Evan White, 13WHAM-TV
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