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Boaters recall bravery of stranger who leaped from bridge into bay to save child

A good Samaritan is being hailed as a hero after he jumped into a bay in Maryland to rescue a toddler who was ejected from a car during a collision.
/ Source: TODAY

A pair of boaters who pulled in a 2-year-old girl and a man who rescued her after she was ejected from a vehicle and into a bay during an accident in Ocean City, Maryland, are speaking out about the ordeal.

A five-car collision at 2:47 p.m. Sunday caused a pickup truck to dangle off the Route 90 bridge after the child, still in her car seat, was ejected into the Assawoman Bay below. A stranger jumped more than 25 feet down to save her.

Joe and Alayna Oertel were in the area on their boat and pulled the infant and the rescuer aboard before bringing them to shore where paramedics were waiting.

“After everyone was secured, we zoomed there as fast as we could,” Alayna Oertel told NBC’s Garrett Haake in an interview that aired Tuesday on TODAY.

The person who rescued the child has asked not to be identified and didn’t explain why he took action.

“He didn't say anything. He was just so shocked of what happened,” Alayna Oertel said.

“It was more about making sure that the baby was safe and he was safe,” Joe Oertel said. “You know, he was in some tremendous shock himself. ... It says a lot about some people’s demeanor, just doing the right thing when you got to do it.”

The 2-year-old girl was flown to The Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore, according to an Ocean City Fire Department news release, and seven other people involved in the collision were transported by ground to various hospitals. All have since been released. Police are currently investigating the cause of accident.

As for the boaters, they say the good Samaritan's brave actions reveal a lot about the goodness in humanity.

“When the chips are down, people will come together to make the right choices,” Joe Oertel said.