On Sept. 1, an elderly woman was trapped in her car during flash flooding in Ewing, New Jersey. What looked like a clear road one moment turned into a raging river the next.
The woman can be heard explaining herself in bodycam footage released after the incident.
“When I turned down the street, there was no water!” she said.
But by the time police officer Justin Quinlan showed up, it was waist-deep.
“I said, ‘Man, this water is moving way too fast,'” Quinlan later said, according to WTXF-TV. “But I have to go. I can’t sit here and watch something bad happen to her. So I’m going.”
Using a guardrail to steady himself, he made his way toward the struggling woman, who was concerned about some bags she’d lost.
Of course, what was most important was staying safe through the flood.
Quinlan toyed with the idea of helping the woman to safety himself but opted to wait for backup.
“I did think that I might’ve been able to make it back across with her, but I didn’t want to take the chance. It just wasn’t worth it at that point. We were in a good spot,” he explained to KYW-TV.
“I just kept reassuring her that we were gonna be OK now that I’m here. ‘I promise you I will not let you go. I will not let anything bad happen to you.’
“Thankfully, I come from a family of first responders — my sister is a police officer, my dad is a retired rescue firefighter. It was in my blood to just make sure that I was there to help her out and not let go of her, and that’s what we did.”
After about 20 minutes, firefighters arrived and brought the pair to safety.
The woman was only one of hundreds of people stranded in the rising floodwaters that night. Thanks to officer Quinlan, the water did not claim her.
The Ewing Police Department congratulated Quinlan and the responding firefighters in a Facebook post.
The fire department also shared the bodycam video and recognized the heroes involved in the rescue.
“Fantastic work by Ewing Police Officer Justin Quinlan and two of our very own members — Captain Kyle Brower and Firefighter Oscar Estrada!” the Ewing Township Fire Department shared on Facebook.
Family played a big motivating role in the rescue.
“I got two little kids at home, two little girls, and I knew I had to get back to them and had to get back to my wife,” Quinlan said.
“And I wanted to make sure she got to see her family again, so I wasn’t letting go.”
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