The 3-year-old girl tried to follow her father when he got out of the car at an apartment complex Sunday in Indianapolis, Indiana, WIBC said.
Anthony Burgess Jr., 24, was talking to his friend outside the car at around 4:30 p.m. and told his daughter to stay inside, authorities said. That’s when she reportedly hit the gear shift by accident as she was climbing across the front seat.
The move set the car in motion, WTHR reported. Burgess and his friend, Bobby Malone, turned to see it moving backward toward a retention pond, authorities said.
Neither Burgess nor his friend could swim, according to the Indianapolis Star. But that didn’t stop them from jumping in to rescue the girl, the newspaper said.
Burgess managed to get to the car and grab the girl out of the vehicle, which wasn’t yet submerged, witnesses told the Indy Star. The water was so cold that Malone, 28, had to return to the shore so he wouldn’t be pulled under, WTHR said. Temperatures that day were between 26 and 44 degrees, according to Accuweather.
Meanwhile, a bystander who also couldn’t swim saw what was happening and jumped in to help, WTHR reported. He was able to get the girl and bring her back to shore before going back into the water to help Burgess, the news station said.
But at that point, Burgess was below the water’s surface, WTHR reported. The bystander was about halfway out toward him when he had to turn back, WBIC said. A woman helped him out of the pond, authorities said.
Divers responded to the scene and were in the water a little after 5 p.m., the Indy Star reported. Burgess was found about 20 feet below the surface, according to the newspaper.
Burgess, who’d been underwater for about 10 minutes, was taken to a hospital, where he died late Sunday night, authorities said.
“Despite his inability to swim, he bravely entered the water and saved his daughter,” said Indianapolis Fire Department spokeswoman Rita Reith.
Reith told the Indy Star that the girl was at the hospital in critical condition at of 7 a.m. Monday.
Divers planned to return to the pond on Monday to get the car, WTHR reported.