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'She was gone' Agent's heroic rescue of drowning girl trapped under boat

"When you see a life come back... there aren't words. It's humbling."

Kevin Dupuy, Paul Murphy

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Published: 1:35 PM CDT May 9, 2022
Updated: 5:11 PM CDT May 9, 2022

Sgt. Stephen Rhodes said he was in the right place at the right time.

It was late Saturday afternoon, the day before Mother's Day, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officer was patrolling the coast near Timbalier Bay when he was told about some fishermen who were overfishing for shrimp on Grand Isle.

"I had no intention of even being on Grand Isle on that day," he said.

While citing the fishermen, Rhodes said he saw something dangerous - a smaller aluminum boat was maneuvering through the rock jetties to meet a family on the beach. Because of the confined space, the waves become rough and it's harder for a boat to maintain control.

"Initially, I thought, 'This is crazy! What is this guy doing? He's going to swamp his boat," Rhodes said.

Credit: Google Maps
An example of the rock jetties along the Grand Isle beach.

The boater was able to get his boat under control, the family loaded onto the vessel and Rhodes went back to writing the ticket.

"The situation was not safe, but it's sorted. So it's okay," Rhodes said. "I kept glancing up and noticed that the boat got out of the jetties. I thought, 'Okay. He's safe, he's good. Not something I need to worry about."

He returned to the ticket, then someone shouted that they saw the boat flip.

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