Two local law enforcement officers went beyond the call of duty to rescue a woman drowning in the ocean on Tuesday night.
It was around 11:30 p.m. when a couple walking on the beach heard a woman screaming for help and called 911.
“They didn’t provide much information other than they could hear the person inside the water possibly beneath the pier,” said Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Deputy Julio Gutierrez.
But when he, University Police Corporal Kevin Kilgore and other officers arrived, the screaming had stopped.
“Obviously, the worst is thinking that there’s somebody in the water who needs our help and trying to find that person in the dark is difficult to do,” said Kilgore.
Gutierrez scanned the surf; when he saw something bobbing in the water, he called for all the other deputies and officers to turn their flashlights on what he though could be the woman.
“The best I could, I started making my way down the beach keeping my eye on the object. When I got close enough I could see that it was somebody’s head sticking out of the water,” he described.
Gutierrez immediately started undressing.
“When I turned to ask if I could have another officer or deputy to assist me, Corporal Kilgore also had instinctively started removing his equipment and started taking his uniform off,” he said.
“We were both thinking somebody has to go in the water,” said Kilgore.
They both dived in and swam out to the woman and brought her back to the beach.
“She was floating and her body was limp,” Kilgore said.
The woman was blue from hypothermia and water started coming out of her mouth and nose. But she had a faint pulse and was breathing.
“Luckily we got there in time,” said Gutierrez. “We were able to save the woman’s life.”
But the two men don’t think of themselves as heroes.
“I think we did what we had to do and that’s the moral code we signed up for,” said Kilgore.
The woman was taken to Cottage Hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.
Both Deputy Gutierrez and Cpl. Kilgore said the rescue was a team effort by fellow law enforcement officers, firefighters and paramedics.