French Hero Who Helped Save Tot in East River Plunge Found

Little girl survives plunge at South Street Seaport

Wednesday, Apr 7, 2010  |  Updated 8:02 PM EDT
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It was the most frightening scenario imaginable. A father watched as his child plunged into the East River. So he sprung into action. <a title=Andrew Siff reports." />

It was the most frightening scenario imaginable. A father watched as his child plunged into the East River. So he sprung into action. Andrew Siff reports.

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Rescued Tot's Father Speaks Out

David Anderson, the father of two-year-old Bridget Sheridan, who fell into the East River on Saturday, spoke to LX New York about the harrowing moments before and after her rescue and his grateful message to Julien Duret, the French tourist, who jumped in the river to pull the worried dad and his daughter to safety.
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The mysterious man who leaped into the East River to rescue a toddler who fell in has been found. And he says he didn't even think twice before diving into the chilly water to help save the child's life.

Julien Duret, 29, of Lyon, France, is the man who vanished after the rescue on Saturday, according to the Daily News.

He plucked 2-year-old Bridget Sheridan out of the water after she fell off a gangplank at the South Street Seaport museum. He handed the little girl to her father, who dove in right after him.

"The emotion took over," Duret told the News. "I didn't think at all. It happened very fast. I reacted very fast ... I've never done anything like that before."

Duret, a European engineer vacationing in the Big Apple, told the paper he and his girlfriend had been strolling along a pier at the seaport when he saw something fall into the water. At first he didn't realize it was a child, he said. But once he did, he peeled off his coat and jumped into the frigid water.

By the time Duret surfaced with the blonde baby, whom he described as immobile when he first scooped her up, the child's father, David Anderson, was in the water next to him. The Frenchman handed the child to Anderson, who hauled himself and the girl out of the water. The father and foreigner never got a chance to speak after the rescue.

Said Duret: "I don't really think I'm a hero. ... Anyone would do the same thing."

Anderson said his daughter slipped through guardrails when he averted his eyes to adjust his camera.

In the blink of an eye, she was 15 to 20 feet below, about to drown in the East River.

"I guess instinct took over and I said, 'Look over the side of the railing,'" said Anderson, in his first interview, with NBC's The Today Show.

"And I looked over and there she was. This is the tough part. And she was laying on her back, eyes wide open laying in the water, looking up at me. And the terror in her eyes."

But the terror turned into tears of joy. As father rescued daughter. A videographer was nearby, and in the age of Twitter, within a short while, it seemed as though the whole world has seen the rescue.

Daniela Ullman, visiting from France, said the happy result is heartwarming. "He saved her, that's the important part. She's going to be ok."

Chiniqua Davis of Far Rockaway, walking along the Seaport with her boyfriend, said it was hard to shake what could have been a sad story. "Something else could have happened, you know? What if he didn't jump in? Her life would have been lost."

Anderson, who divides his time between California and Brooklyn, made sure that wasn't the case.

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