Wenatchee, WA – Two off-duty law enforcement officers jumped into the churning waters of the Wenatchee River on Sunday afternoon to rescue a five-year-old boy who was being swept away.
Kent Police Department (KPD) Detective Rick Gilcrist and King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy B. Johnson were vacationing with their families near the river on Aug. 2 when they spotted the young boy in the frigid water, according to the Kent Reporter.
He was “floating down the river by himself and in a panic,” the KPD said in a Facebook post.
Without hesitation, Det. Gilcrist and Deputy Johnson immediately jumped into the river and intercepted the little boy before the swiftly-moving current swept him further downstream.
A witness said the officers “calmed the panicking child in the middle of the rapidly flowing river” for several moments before they resumed their rescue effort, according to the KPD.
With the terrified boy in tow, they fought back through the current and pulled him safely onto the shore.
Deputy Johnson and Det. Gilcrist remained with the child until his father arrived at their location, the KCSO said in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.
The witness praised both officers for fearlessly averting tragedy while others simply looked on.
“The river was moving at such a swift pace I have no doubt that without decisive action, quick thinking, and lack of hesitation these two men showed, while others stood by and watched, the child would have been swept away and ultimately drowned,” the witness said, according to the KPD. “The actions of both of these men deserve to be recognized and commended as they reflect greatly upon not only their own personal character, but that of the departments that employ them.”
The KPD said it is thankful to know that officers continue to exhibit bravery, compassion, and strong character even when they are not on duty.
“This near tragedy was adverted by their selfless character leading to swift actions,” the department noted. “Their character is why they became police officers in the first place.”
The KCSO commended both officers for their bravery, and said they were “thankful this little boy made it out of the river safely.”
The KPD said that it will be awarding Det. Gilcrist a department Life Saving award after he returns from “his much needed vacation.”