Harrell Fischer — aptly named, as he is, in fact, an avid fisherman — was at the dock July 27, working on his boat along the Sacramento River.
At around 9:30 p.m., he was shocked to see a car had driven into the water.
According to a media release from the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the car had veered off the road and was “partially submerged in the river.”
Not knowing what had happened or who was in the car, Fischer and a friend got in his boat and went over to investigate, seeing the car’s taillights in the water.
“I heard some crashing, like, branches breaking and whatnot,” Fischer told KCRA-TV. “We hopped in his boat, and we went over and I started hearing screaming.”
As they got closer, Fischer’s heart sank. It became clear that there were several children trapped in the car.
“And then we went right up to the door, and we opened up the passenger door, and I saw a little face look up at me, and I about just melted,” he said. “It was intense. And I was like ‘oh my gosh,’ and then I saw two little hands poke out, too, you know, like ‘help me.'”
“I grabbed another kid and I put him in the boat, and I grabbed another kid and I put him in the boat and another kid was coming out. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s four kids in that car.'”
At some point, an adult male exited the passenger’s side, but declined to help with the kids. The oldest child, a 6-year-old boy, told Fischer something terrible.
“He said, ‘He shot my mom,'” Fischer recalled. “I said, ‘What? What did you say?’ And he said, ‘He shot my mom.’ And this little 6-year-old kid says to me, ‘And you don’t come back from a shot like that.'”
The woman in the driver’s seat had been shot in the upper body, causing her to run the vehicle into the river.
Fischer and his friend tried to assist her, too, but they quickly realized she was beyond their help.
“We couldn’t find a pulse and when we tried to lift her up, she was just covered in blood,” Fischer said. “I don’t want anyone to ever see that or have to go through that.”
The adult male was identified as 27-year-old Mandiko Kwadzo. According to KCRA, Kwadzo and the deceased woman were parents to three of the four children in the car, though the parentage of the final child was unclear.
Kwadzo was arrested for murder and taken to the Sacramento County Main Jail.
Motive was not immediately clear, and detectives have asked anyone who has information about the incident to contact them.
While this tragic event has no doubt deeply scarred the children, they are alive — thanks to the efforts of two men in the right place at the right time.
“I thank God for keeping those kids safe,” the hero said.
“I thank God for keeping me and John safe. And for keeping — you know, I pray for that dude, too, you know, the guy that did all this. I pray for him, too.”
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