Indiana officer hailed as hero for saving children from retention pond after chase

Northwest Indiana

Dashcam captures high-speed chase, moment car crashes into pond

ST JOHN, Ind. — An officer in Indiana’s heroic actions saved the lives of two young children after the car they were riding in crashed into a retention pond Sunday.

Police said Lake County Indiana Sherriff’s police were conducting a traffic stop around 11:30 p.m. During the stop, a man who had a warrant out for his arrest ran from the scene. A woman who was also in the car, jumped in the driver’s seat and drove off.  Authorities pursued the car in a high-speed chase.

The driver’s two young girls were in the backseat at the time, police said.

St John police officers spotted the car involved. Officer Darrell Shaffer was among them.

Shaffer spoke to media Monday.           

“In a high speed pursuit like that you don’t want anything bad to happen to anyone,” he said. 

 Shaffer pursued the car down Interstate 80-94 toward Kennedy Avenue where it exited.  The driver then lost control of the car and it crashed into a retention pond.  

Shaffer exited his vehicle and approached the pond.

“I was unsure there were kids in the car until I got to the front of the car and I saw the 3-year-old floating in the back,” he said. “And I didn’t know how much time I had to get her out.” 

Officer Darrell Shaffer

Shaffer was able to grab the 3-year-old girl out the car and was told there was another baby in the backseat.  But Shaffer said he couldn’t see anything.  

 “I reached in the water and I felt a leg and I pulled her upside down out of the water,” he said. 

He said the 8-month-old girl was submerged for about a minute and half.  

 “When you have kids of your own, and we you see them struggling …” he said.  “It’s not her fault. They did nothing wrong. They were in a bad situation that they should have never been put in.” 

The children were alert, conscious and breathing by the time they were taken to the hospital. 

WGN News was told they are stable and expected to be ok. 

“We see stuff that people should just never see and sometimes it hit home,” Shaffer said.

The man and the woman were arrested. St. John police said Lake County Sheriff’s Department continuing its investigation.  Charges are pending. 

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