March 25, 2023

Children and bodies of water are a famously bad combination. Natural water features can be dangerous to people of all ages, especially when the water hides invisible dangers or a person is unable to stay afloat.

When a baby tumbled into a retention pond in Florida on June 9, Officer Me’Atia Sanderson with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) showed up first and did what first responders do best: Charged ahead to save a life.

The only problem was that just like that infant drowning in the pond, Sanderson didn’t know how to swim, either.

A local at the Madelyn Oaks Apartments in Jacksonville had noticed the baby, whose age wasn’t given, along with a child that appeared to be around 3 years old, playing in the water unsupervised at around 9:45 a.m., according to WJXT-TV.

When Sanderson arrived and ran over, the younger child was no longer visible. After being directed to where the baby had disappeared, she plunged into the water.


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A maintenance man jumped in, too, and after the officer located the lifeless child, she handed the baby off to the man and worked on getting herself out of the water.

“They were able to do like teamwork,” a resident who asked to remain anonymous told WJXT. “She was able to give the baby to the maintenance guy and now she’s trying to help herself get out of there because she got on her safety gear, her duty belt, stuff like that. She did an amazing job like doing what she could do.”

Once the maintenance man put the baby on the ground, Sanderson rushed over and began CPR, talking to the baby while trying to revive it.

While the incident took place back in June, the JSO just released the bodycam video on Tuesday as part of ther “week of thanks.”

“Police Officers across this country report to work each and everyday to protect and serve their communities,” the post reads. “They show up each day knowing they will be faced with unimaginable challenges and dangers; yet they do not know what those challenges or dangers will be or how they will present themselves.

WARNING: The following video contains language that some viewers may find offensive

“Ofc. Me’Atia Sanderson joined JSO in March of 2019. As a patrol officer in Zone 4 (Westside), Ofc. Sanderson was working on June 9th of this year when JSO and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department were dispatched to an infant drowning in a retention pond. Ofc. Sanderson was the first to arrive on scene and was alerted that the infant was still in the water. Ofc. Sanderson, who does not know how to swim herself, without a second’s hesitation, entered the pond to retrieve the child and performed CPR until she was relieved by other responding officers.


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“Captain Christopher Scott with JFRD authored a letter to JSO on behalf of Ofc. Sanderson recognizing the impact her ‘quick and decisive decision to go into the retention pond’ made. Her actions, while putting her own life at risk, undoubtedly saved the child’s life.

“As we continue our #weekofthanks, we at the #JSO are thankful that we have officers like Ofc. Sanderson, who day in and day out, take on the challenges and dangers of this job. Our community would not be what it is without them.”

After the rescue, the older child was found to be unharmed. The child pulled from the water was listed as being in “very critical condition.”

Police later found out that the two had been in the care of a teenage relative when they managed to wander off and get to the pond.

“Be cognizant of retention ponds,” JSO Sergeant Robby Hinson said. “If you have small children, put a lock up high on the door or get one of those plastic locks to prevent kids from opening a door handle.”

Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she’s strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.

As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn’t really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she’s had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children’s books with her husband, Edward.


Austin, Texas

Languages Spoken

English und ein bißchen Deutsch

Topics of Expertise

Faith, Animals, Cooking