Jonathan Bauer, the good Samaritan who saved a two-year-old girl by jumping 25 feet off a bridge into a Maryland bay last Sunday, is speaking out for the first time about the incident.
Bauer, who initially didn’t want to be identified after rescuing the toddler, recalled the five-car accident on the Route 90 bridge in Ocean City, Maryland that led to the toddler being thrown into Assawoman Bay at a press conference Friday.
During the press conference, shared by WJLA, Bauer explained that the first thing he remembered hearing was the screeching of tires and then he saw a truck turn over on the bridge's railing. He went to try to help a passenger get out of the truck and once the passenger safely exited the vehicle, Bauer said they didn't say much and simply pointed down at the water.
“I saw the car seat and some other items and about six feet away from the car seat was a little girl,” he recounted. “She was on her back completely floating, head completely out of the water, arms moving, legs kicking, and a little pink dress.”
Soon after, the toddler flipped over and her head became submerged underwater. That prompted Bauer to spring into action. He said that he instructed his 13-year-old daughter, Ava, to flag down the first firefighter and police officer she saw, before he sat down and pushed off the bridge and into the shallow water over 25 feet below.
Ava described seeing her dad jump off the bridge as the “scariest part” of her life.
Once he was in the water, Bauer said, “I popped up, swam over to the girl, lifted her out of the water, and looked at her. Her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open and then I put her against my shoulder very high and aggressively patted her on the back.”
Bauer explained that the girl was able to spit up some of the water that she had taken in.
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Joe and Alayna Oertel, two bystanders who were in the area on their boat, told TODAY Tuesday that they were able to navigate their boat over to Bauer and the girl and pull them aboard.
“It was more about making sure that the baby was safe and he was safe,” Joe explained. “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 Oertels then brought them to shore where paramedics were waiting.
The toddler was later flown to The Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, according to an Ocean City Fire Department news release. The seven other people who were involved in the multi-car collision were transported by ground to various hospitals and have since been released.
Richard W. Meehan, the mayor of Ocean City, called Bauer a "humble hero" at the press conference Friday and explained that Bauer wanted to hold the event to thank firefighters and first responders who helped in the rescue efforts.
Bauer’s wife, Wendi, let it slip during the conference that despite not thinking twice when he saw the toddler in the water, her husband is actually terrified of heights.
"I can't say how proud I am of him," she said at one point, tearing up. "It doesn't surprise me. If you know him, you know that that is something he would do.”