Good Samaritan who rescued toddler from Md. bay after crash recounts what happened

The man who jumped in the Assawoman Bay in Maryland to save a toddler, who had been ejected from a vehicle into the water following a five-vehicle crash, shared his story during an event in Ocean City honoring his bravery.

Jonathan Bauer said that he had been working on his boat last Sunday and needed to run an errand. He asked his daughter Ava if she wanted to come along and she said yes, as long as they could stop at a taco place.

When they finished their errand and got something to eat, they drove home, passing by Ocean City on the way. As they passed through the Route 90 bridge, they were involved in a crash.

Bauer said he got out of the car to check and he got Ava out, as well. He saw one of the crash victims trying to get out of the vehicle and Bauer went over to help, instructing his daughter to stay put.

As Bauer helped the other vehicle, he looked over the railing and saw a car seat on the water and a toddler floating on her back.

It was almost “picturesque,” Bauer said. Then the toddler started to turn on her stomach. That’s when he took off his shoes — “I don’t know why I did that,” he said — told Ava to call 911, and he pushed off the bridge into the bay.

Ava said that watching her dad jump off the bridge was the scariest thing she has experienced in her life, wiping away tears as she recounted what she saw. Bauer reached over and hugged his daughter.

With only a 5% charge, she called 911, and operators told her that calls had already been made and help was on the way.

When her father emerged and got the little girl, Ava asked him how he was going to get out of the water.

“That’s a good question,” Bauer told his daughter.

A pontoon boat arrived and a couple fished Bauer and the toddler from the water, and went toward waiting first responders. Police say the girl is expected to make a full recovery, adding seven others in the crash have since been treated at hospitals and released.

Bauer’s family, including his wife Wendi, joined Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Fire Chief Richie Bowers during the event Friday. It was an opportunity for Bauer and Ava to thank everybody else who helped that day.

Meehan called Bauer a “humble hero.”

“This was a really tragic accident that occurred at the Route 90 Bridge, and the good news, the ending of the story is everybody’s OK. They’re OK because of everybody in this room,” Meehan said.

“What he did was without question a heroic thing, and very courageous thing to jump into over the railing, down 25 to 30 feet into open water,” Bowers said.

Bauer’s wife, Wendi, said that she was not surprised that her husband did what he did. “If you know him, you know that is something he would do.”

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

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