Radio reporter Dave Dildine had no idea he was about to stumble into the most important assignment of his career
He got his shot and headed out of Rocky Creek Park when he heard the sound.
A woman in trouble.
It would take a few days to put together all the pieces of exactly who this woman was.
In the moment, Dildine knew he had to act fast.
“I looked over this railing and saw her flailing around in this pool of water,” Dildine recounted a day later on WTOP, standing in the exact spot where he spotted a woman drowning in the creek.
“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. ‘Come toward the shore,’” Dildine said.
The moment he reached the water, he realized there would be no one else to help either one of them. Before he could call 911, Dildine said the woman’s face began to dip below the surface. He dropped his phone in the snow and went in.
Dildine later found out the woman was 27-year-old Sarah Kirkpatrick. A jogger who was also trying to capture a picture of the snow.
Seeing a better angle for her shot, she left her running path and climbed up onto the railing along Broad Branch Run and swung one leg over it.
Then, her foot slipped.
It gives away the happy ending to this story to say Kirkpatrick was later able to share her side of the story with WTOP.
“I remember screaming. I didn’t know anyone was out there. I remember seeing Dave when I was losing it — when I was going under.”
Minutes before she fell, the 27-year-old said she was also trying to take a picture of the snow.
Reporter Megan Cloherty does a great job pulling together all the parts of this story.
And here is the best part–Dave and Sarah reunited sharing their story.
One of my favorite parts of this story–Dildine’s being a traffic reporter really made a difference.
From the WTOP story: Dildine knew where they were in Rock Creek Park and directed emergency responders to their exact location where Broad Branch Run meets Blagden Avenue Northwest. It is something he said is a common problem in emergency situations.
“‘I’m in a creek, can you come get me?’ That doesn’t work. That’s not good enough. You need to know where you are at all times. Whether you’re hiking in a park — even an urban park — you have to be aware of your surroundings. Because you never know what’s around the next corner,” he said.