St. John, Indiana police officer risks own life to save 2 kids, mother who drove into retention pond

Northwest Indiana Police Officer Darrell Shaffer is being hailed a hero for his swift actions in saving two young girls from a car that ended up submerged in a retention pond.

The rescue happened after the girls' mother, who was driving, led police on a high-speed chase from St. John, Indiana to Highland, Ind.

"When you have kids of your own, and you see them struggling, it's not their fault," Shaffer said. "They did nothing wrong. They were in a bad situation they should have never been put in."

Shaffer, a 24-year police veteran and father of three, rescued a 3-year-old girl and an 8-month old girl from the back seat. The car was in chest-deep water. Dashcam footage from Shaffer's squad car captured the pursuit eastbound on 80/94. The lead car is seen splashing into the retention pond off the Kennedy Avenue exit ramp.

Moments later, Officer Shaffer is seen running into the water.

"I saw the 3-year-old floating in the back and I didn't know how much time I had to get her out," Shaffer said.

He got the 3-year-old out through the passenger's side window, then learned about the baby, but couldn't see her.

"I still couldn't see the baby," Shaffer said. "I reached in the water and I felt the leg and then I pulled her upside down out of the water. She was submerged for a minute and a half. I didn't know how much time I had til the car started to sink."

Police say the girls' mom had fled police during an earlier traffic stop in which a male occupant of the car ran off, who'd been wanted on an arrest warrant.

"I can't say enough about how proud we are of Officer Shaffer," said Saint John Police Chief Steven Flores.


The mother and the man who earlier fled police were both arrested. Police say he also ended up in a retention pond after trying to escape on foot.

As of Monday night, FOX 32 is still waiting for a response from the Lake County Sheriff's Department on who they are and why he was wanted. Both the man and the woman — who are both from Chicago — are in custody at the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

Both children are expected to be OK.