Dramatic Footage Shows Police Officer Who’s Not ‘That Good of a Swimmer’ Save Girl Drowning in Deep Water

Officers with the Tacoma Police Department in Washington were being hailed as heroes after they jumped into a lake to save a drowning 15-year-old girl.

“Every single one of us just stopped what we were doing and ran toward the lake,” Officer Steve O’Neal told KIRO.

“What we were doing” was eating lunch nearby, according to KIRO. Bodycam footage released by the department showed multiple officers running to the scene while sirens sounded in the background.


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Neither the department nor KIRO said why the girl, whose name was not released, was in the water.

O’Neal said the water — which KIRO’s reporter described as “frigid” — was about 10 feet deep where the girl was, and that she was unconscious and starting to slip beneath the surface.

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O’Neal wasted no time, jumping into the water of Wapato Lake and making his way out to the teen.

“We get trained to just act,” he said. “Our who goal is to save lives and protect lives.”

O’Neal said it was his “first water rescue,” and also told reporters that he’s not “that good of a swimmer” and had never worked as a lifeguard.

He went underwater, got his hands on the unresponsive girl, and pushed her toward shore and into the hands of other officers, who got her to shore.

And he did this all while wearing full gear.


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The girl’s father stopped by the TPD to express his gratitude, and the department said O’Neal and two of the other officers involved in the rescue would receive medals. O’Neal, however, said he only did what any other TPD officer would have done.

“Going in there was just instinct and I know that anyone in our department would have done the same,” he told KIRO. “I think it’s obviously being a parent and being a police officer. I think at the end of the day you’re obviously responsible for that person.

“There’s no hesitation,” he added. “You just protect and you save.”

And save he did: The girl was taken to a nearby hospital and was expected to recover.

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George Upper is the former Editor-in-Chief of The Western Journal and was a weekly co-host of “WJ Live,” powered by The Western Journal. He is currently a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. A former U.S. Army special operator, teacher and consultant, he is a lifetime member of the NRA and an active volunteer leader in his church. Born in Foxborough, Massachusetts, he has lived most of his life in central North Carolina.

George Upper, is the former editor-in-chief of The Western Journal and is now a contributing editor in the areas of faith, politics and culture. He currently serves as the connections pastor at Awestruck Church in Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a former U.S. Army special operator, teacher, manager and consultant. Born in Massachusetts, he graduated from Foxborough High School before joining the Army and spending most of the next three years at Fort Bragg. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English as well as a Master’s in Business Administration, all from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He and his wife life only a short drive from his three children, their spouses and his grandchildren. He is a lifetime member of the NRA and in his spare time he shoots, reads a lot of Lawrence Block and John D. MacDonald, and watches Bruce Campbell movies. He is a fan of individual freedom, Tommy Bahama, fine-point G-2 pens and the Oxford comma.


Foxborough, Massachusetts




Beta Gamma Sigma


B.A., English, UNCG; M.A., English, UNCG; MBA, UNCG


North Carolina

Languages Spoken


Topics of Expertise

Faith, Business, Leadership and Management, Military, Politics

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