Whidbey Island maintenance worker helps save toddler who hopped into water by himself

COUPEVILLE, Wash. — An Island County maintenance worker is being praised as an unsung hero for helping to save a toddler’s life after he jumped off a dock and into the water by himself.


Surveillance video captured the entire incident on camera.

The video showed a young child run on a dock and hop into the water without any hesitation at Captain Coupe’s Park and Boat Launch in Coupeville, Washington.

Shortly after, a woman sprints across the dock and jumps into the water to save the little boy.

A man quickly followed the woman, just several steps behind.

The man grabbed the toddler and pulled him safely onto the dock.

KIRO 7 News spoke with Tony Richter, a maintenance worker for the Town of Coupeville, who helped save the toddler’s life, on Monday.

Richter said he stopped by the Waste and Water Treatment Plant, which is located right next to the boat dock, to pick up a piece of equipment for one his projects.

“Happen to just come down. Came in and drove down the lot. Kind of looked out. We always take a look at the water on the way in,” he said.

When he pulled his truck into the parking lot, he said he noticed only one vehicle parked with all of the doors open.

“It was just something odd,” he shared.

Moments later, he said he saw a toddler run across the dock and hop into the water.

Richter said, “It’s every parent’s nightmare.”

“Your heart sinks,” he said. “Never would I have guessed that was going to be the outcome.”

And that’s when Richter said he yelled to catch the toddler’s mother’s attention.

“He’s in the water. He’s in the water,” he described what he yelled.

“It had the potential to be very bad,” he added.

Joseph Grogan, director of Public Works for the Town of Coupeville, said, “Timing was everything. One second either way, he (Richter) may have not noticed it. He’s very vigilant.”

After the mother jumped into the water to save the boy, Richter was there to help them both.

He said the toddler was panicking.

“I don’t think he realized what had happened. Maybe some regret,” Richter said.

The little boy seemed fine, he added, adding that he had a few coughs, but was conscious.

“He seemed to be okay walking back with mom. It’s a relief and it’s still one of those things you will remember,” he said. “It makes you want to tuck them (your children) in and squeeze them tighter.”

First responders did not arrive at the scene, he said.

Shortly after, the mother and her two boys left, Richter said.

“After Tony told me about the incident and reviewed the recording in the wastewater plant, everybody became a bit emotional,” said Grogan. “It was very fortunate that Tony was able to get the mother’s attention and assist on lifting the child out.”

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