OCEAN CITY, Md. (WJZ) — He was in right place at the right time — Jonathan Bauer recalled the moment he decided to jump into the Assawoman Bay to rescue a baby after she fell into the water after a crash on the Route 90 bridge in Ocean City.
On Friday, Bauer joined Ocean City first responders for a “kitchenside” chat about the rescue. Flanked by his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Ava, the good Samaritan recounted his heroic actions to save the toddler’s life.READ MORE: Toddler Injured In Ocean City Bridge Crash Out Of Hospital
It was a heart-stopping moment that lead to a daring rescue.
Jonathan spoke about how he and daughter, Ava, were initially involved in the chain-reaction crash. As he looked around to make sure his daughter and others at the scene were OK, he heard someone screaming for help.
A baby had fallen into the water after the crash.
“I hit feet first, then knees, and then arms,” Bauer said. “And I was fine. I popped up swam over to the girl.”
Bauer jumped 30 feet from the bridge to save an 18-month-old girl who was thrown into the Bay.
“I looked at her, her mouth was open, her eyes were semi-open and then put her against my shoulder very high and aggressively pat her on my back and within seconds she spit up a bunch of water,” he said.
The adrenaline-pumping scene came after Jonathan and his teenage daughter were involved in a five-car crash on the Route 90 bridge that left a pick-up truck teetering off the side of the railing. The child was thrown from the truck and into the water.
“When I looked at the water, by that she had flipped over on her stomach, her face was in the water,” Bauer recalled.
That’s when Jonathan said his instincts kicked in and jumped into action.
“I threw my legs over, pressed my feet, because there was a pillar over me and looked at my daughter and said, ‘grab the first firefighter or police officer you see.’ And then I pushed off,” Bauer said.READ MORE: SEE IT: Video Shows Good Samaritan Rescuing Baby Who Fell Off Ocean City Bridge After Crash
“My first instinct was when my dad jumped off the bridge — it looked like he was going head first into the water,” Ava said. “and when I first thought of that, I was thinking he was going to die.”
“So that was my first instinct and probably the scariest part of my life,” she recalled. “Seeing my dad jump off a bridge.”
The Oertel family watched the whole scene unfold down below from the shallow water.
“Our heart dropped,” said Joe Oertel. “You just go right into a different mode you step it up at that point.”
They immediately came to the rescue by pulling Jonathan and the child onto their boat to safety.
“He was stoic, he was rattled, but he was under control,” said Oertel. “He knew what was going on and what had just happened.”
“The Oertel family. I couldn’t say enough for being there right place, right time,” Bauer said.
His wife Wendy, along with the first responders, commending his self-less and brave actions.
“I can’t say how proud I am of him,” she said. “It doesn’t surprise me, if you know him, you know that that is something he would do.”
The child was taken to the hospital for treatment and is now recovering from home. She’s expected to make a full recovery– all thanks to Jonathan’s heroism.
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