Officer Saves Two-Year-Old Girl From Runaway Car Dangling in Trees
Officer says he was in the right place at the right time, and the family is thankful for that.
DULUTH, Minn.- A runaway van took a two-year-old girl for a wild ride that could have ended tragically, were it not for the actions of a Duluth Police Officer who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Megan Newman was taking her daughters out of the car in the parking lot of Munger Terrace Apartments after a trip to the Aquarium, when she noticed a problem with her key.
She turned to her neighbor, Regina Cameron, to tell her. Then Cameron peered behind her, “and I said oh my god, your car is rolling!”
Megan’s minivan–with the emergency brake in place–somehow rolled down the hill, hit a banister, and veered into heavy traffic on Mesaba Avenue.
“I see a blue-in-color minivan side swipe a grey vehicle in the middle of the intersection,” said Officer Todd Simmons, who happened on the scene on his way to work.
“At the time we only had what was a two-vehicle crash at the time.”
“But then, I noticed a mother was running behind the vehicle screaming ‘my child, oh my god my child!'”
Two-year-old Bella was still in the minivan, now stuck in some trees off a steep hillside.
“It’s a pretty steep drop off, so it’s a good 10-15 foot drop off down,” Simmons said.
According to officer Simmons, it’s a good thing that the minivan Bella was in hit the car in the intersection, to slow it down and keep it from rolling all the way down the hill.
“The route the van took was probably the best route it did take.”
Cameron said she took off after the van, with unnatural speed and energy. She then rushed over to see what she could do to help.
“My first instinct was to grab her but my mind said, what if she’s harmed?” she said.
Others came over to help too, and according to Cameron, Newman was touched at how many people of all backgrounds came to help. “The diversity that came to help her really touched her heart.”
But Cameron already noticed the car was teetering precariously, making her nervous.
“And then there was an officer on the other side, and he says ‘I got her.'”
Officer Simmons climbed into the car, careful to keep it balanced. “I’m not a small guy either, so,” he said about the struggle getting to Bella.
“She held onto me pretty tightly of course, she was pretty scared. Saying the word ‘ouchie’ as if to indicate she might be hurt.”
But somehow, she wasn’t. “She was pretty shooken up but no injuries sustained to her at all.”
Some would say that was a miracle.
“No airbags depleted,” Cameron said, “and I’m gonna say this: God saved that girl.”
Newman said it was Officer Simmons who was looking out for her daughter that day. In a statement to FOX 21 she says:
“Simmons is my daughter’s guardian angel! The way he was right there to save her from the car.. was just incredible timing….my daughter is alive , that’s all that matters. Would like to give thanks to officer Simmons and all the other police officers that assisted. The Duluth fire department, gold cross! And the amazing community who was there for me during that difficult time.”
Meanwhile the hero of the story, doesn’t feel like he is.
“I’d like to think that anybody would’ve done the same thing in my position, especially any first responder, of course,” said Simmons. “No, nothing special. I don’t consider myself a hero at all.”
“Protecting lives, serving the community, I feel that’s what I did that day.”
According to Cameron and some other residents, cars have rolled from their parking spots down the steep hill before at Munger Terrace. She said she is going to her landlord to see about putting up some type of barrier, to keep this from happening again.
Meanwhile Newman, a single mother, has to buy a new vehicle. To help her with the cost, you can find a GoFundMe for her here.
She could not interview because she went with the girls out of town. She said they needed to get away from it all to clear their heads.