Off-duty cop pulls young girls from Ash Slough in Chowchilla

July 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Two little girls are alive thanks to quick action by an off-duty reserve police officer. The girls nearly drown Wednesday after being swept away by a swift current in a Chowchilla canal.

Those two young girls went into the water in a very popular area this time of year, known as the Ash Slough. It's also illegal to swim there.

The six and eight-year-old sisters were swept downstream Wednesday evening. A piece of pink clothing was still tangled in the branches Thursday where the little girls were rescued.

"I was on my bike right behind you on the trail here. And I was riding through the bridge area and she came running up screaming," said Tony Spada, a reserve officer with the Chowchilla Police Department.

"As soon as I went into the water I didn't like it, I didn't like it at all," he said. "But I thought about my kid and I would want somebody to do that for my kid. So that's what drove me to do it."

Spada had to jump into the dangerous water twice, to rescue both girls. Fortunately for the scared children Spada is also a warden with Fish and Game where he's become well trained in swift water rescue, only this time he had no safety gear or partners helping him get to the girls.

"The child was tangled up in the tree. She had to lose grip to get on my back to swim her across," Spada said. "That was the most difficulty one."

"I'm so thankful that Officer Spada was in the right spot at the right time because this could have been a tragic ending," said Chowchilla police Sgt. John Markle.

Markle says too many people go to the Ash Slough to escape the summer heat. Action News even spotted a family getting kicked out of the area Thursday.

"Scary, it's just scary," Spada said. "Kids go into the water and I don't think they realize the force of that water."

If people are caught multiple times out in the Ash Slough, they are cited by the Chowchilla Police Department. At this point Chowchilla police tell Action News they turned in their report to the district attorney's office who will determine whether that mother faces any charges.


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