Officer has to be saved himself after going to the rescue of drowning woman

FORT WORTH -- A Fort Worth police officer investigating a report of a sexual assault risked his life to save a drowning woman this week, and in turn had to be rescued, police and fire officials said.

Officer Shane Farmer was among those responding to a 911 call made at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday from a commercial area near Western Center Boulevard on the east side of Interstate 35W in north Fort Worth.

When they arrived, they couldn't find a victim.

But a witness told them that a woman had gone toward a pond near a restaurant.

Farmer spotted the woman in the pond.

"I saw her go underwater quite a few times, and each time she went under, she stayed longer and longer," Farmer said. "I just dropped my gun belt and radio and went right into the water."

Farmer said he got hold of the woman and started to tow her to safety, but she fought him, Farmer said.

Finally, her struggles combined with the weight of his body armor and uniform were too much. Farmer's head went under water -- once, twice, three times.

Fort Worth firefighters and paramedics had arrived soon after police. Fire Lt. Tommy Abercrombie jumped in and grabbed the woman, pulling her toward solid ground, Farmer said.

Officer Kyle Beaird, who was riding with Farmer, jumped into the water right behind Abercrombie to rescue the exhausted Farmer, who had by now gone under four or five times.

It was dark, the water hole was surrounded by a thick wall of 8-foot cattails, and no one could see exactly where they were, even with the firetruck's lights shining into the pond, Beaird said. But they could hear the struggles, he said.

Farmer went under for a sixth time.

"I'm glad he was in arm's reach, so I just pulled him out," Beaird said.

None of the first responders could tell the pond's depth. The water itself was black and stagnant, the police officers said. The pond had filled with litter and trash washed down from recent rains.

Emergency workers used the reeds to pull themselves and the woman out of the water. The rest of Abercrombie's firefighting crew and other patrol officers were waiting on shore with ropes and life vests to help pull them out of the muck and mud.

Officer K. Bickley was waiting to give the woman chest compressions until paramedics transported her to a local hospital, where she is expected to recover, the officers said.

Police spokesmen declined to provide information on the investigation into the reported sexual assault or how the woman came to be in the pond.

"Lt. Abercrombie and Beaird both gave me a chance to live," Farmer said. "If it wasn't for Lt. Abercrombie, I'm sure that she would have disappeared for good. And if it wasn't for officer Beaird, I'm sure that I would have disappeared for good."

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752