Tammy and Brian Bossard feared the worst for their 23-month-old daughter Friday night when their family boat snagged a power line and overturned in Florida’s Indian River.
Thanks to the quick and earnest response of the Cocoa Beach, Florida, police department, Kennedy was found safe and sound while tucked inside an air pocket under the hull, with only a few minor injuries to show for it.
As previously reported by People, the Bossard family were on their way home from a Friday night dinner at the Grills Riverside Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar when the boat tipped over.
“I’m in the river. My boat crashed and I have a baby still in the water. Please God send someone now… please hurry!” Tammy screamed during a chilling 911 call.
“I woke up in the water with Charlotte in my arms,” says Tammy. “Brian came up around the top of the boat.”
“We yelled and called to [Kennedy] as we waited for first responders and then we quieted down after our initial shock and that’s when we heard her cry. Brian dove under the boat time after time again, but couldn’t find her because it was pitch dark outside.”
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and Cocoa police and fire departments, along with the Coast Guard, were quick to respond, arriving at the scene just after 10:30 pm near the Hubert Humphrey Bridge. They immediately spotted the family the moment they arrived.
Kennedy, however, was nowhere to be found.
“It was pure terror, just absolute terror to know that your baby is alone, is in the river, and you don’t have eyes on her,” Tammy said. “She’s very tough, but we knew she was scared and there was nothing we could do.”
“Four patrol officers jumped in and began searching for the victims. A civilian in a boat nearby also assisted,” said the Cocoa Police Department. “The adults and the infant were quickly located but the search continued for nearly one hour for a 23-month old girl.”
Officers said they heard a faint cry just when they were about to give up.
“It was very hard to see. My hand in front of me, could barely see that,” Cocoa police Cpl. Alan Worthy told reporters, as reported by Florida Today.
Worthy said that he heard Kennedy “saying something inside” as soon as he pressed his ear to the boat. In response to the voice, he called for another officer, removed his gear, and jumped into the water.
Then they found the toddler floating inside an air pocket just underneath the capsized vessel — safe and sound. She was found with her life jacket still on.
Officer Matthew Rush said he “pulled the child down out of the hull of the boat” and then out of the river, after which they brought her to medical personnel for immediate treatment.
“I just made sure she was breathing. She was awake crying, coughing,” said Dora Dellatorre, a trauma nurse who came on the scene. “I just wrapped her up as much as I could with the life vest, and my body heat just kept her awake and comforted her until we got to the shore.”
“It was just amazing to watch. They’re true heroes, whether they admit it or not,” Dellatorre commended the officers.
“This was truly a miracle,” Tammy tells People. “It’s just unreal, it’s every parents worst nightmare to think that you could lose your child, and this was so real it was a nightmare come to life.”
“We are so, so lucky.”
After two days at the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Kennedy is back with her parents and her 7-month-old sister, Charlotte.
“I would tell any parent that your child’s life is more important than anything,” says Tammy. “Make sure if you are on a boat they are wearing a life jacket! It saved Kennedy.”
The family also revealed that they changed their family boat’s name from “No Tomorrow” to “Second Chance” because of how their daughter Kennedy got a second chance at life.
[Image via Shutterstock]