News photographer saves drowning woman during storm
© Greg Nash

A Washington news reporter and photographer rescued a drowning woman drowning in a creek during a snowstorm Sunday. 

WTOP’s Dave Dildine was taking pictures in Rock Creek Park Sunday to capture photographs of Boulder Bridge covered in snow when he heard faint screams, the news agency reported Thursday.

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“I looked over this railing and saw her flailing around in this pool of water,” Dildine said.

“I shouted, ‘Hang on! I’ll be right there,’ … went down to the creek, which at that point was pretty deep and yelled for her to swim toward me.”

Sarah Kirkpatrick was also taking pictures in the area. She fell into a creek after deviating from the park’s running path.

“All I was thinking was stay above water or try to grab something, a rock. I do remember trying to grab a rock and I missed it. And I was thinking, ‘Try and find your feet,’” she said.

“It felt like paralysis. I couldn’t move my limbs … I remember my face going in the water and thinking, ‘Well, this is how it ends.’ I cannot move. I cannot get my body to move. I was trying so hard.” 

Dildine also fell through the ice while rescuing Kirkpatrick and swam back to a nearby bank while holding onto her. He called 911 and, through his experience as a traffic reporter, was able to give their specific location in Rock Creek Park.

He covered Kirkpatrick using a dry portion of his body, noticing she was stiff and had trouble breathing.

“As I yelled for help, I tried to use the dry portion of my body to warm her as much as possible, knowing she was in a serious state of hypothermia. I was worried she was going to die in my arms,” Dildine said.

Noticing Kirkpatrick’s condition declining, he left her side to find help as emergency services were on their way and found a rescue squad. Hours after Kirkpatrick was rushed to the hospital, first responders told Dildine she would be okay.

The pair reunited days later, when Dildine gifted Kirkpatrick a framed photo of Boulder Bridge he took Sunday.