DURHAM, N.C. (AP/WNCN) – A Durham County sheriff’s deputy says he heard wailing in the darkness and plunged into an apartment complex’s pond at night to rescue two young girls after police say their father tried to drown them.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Deputy Sheriff David Earp said he was at home when he received a phone call reporting a disturbance on Shearwater Drive.
Earp said he got some of his equipment together and drove to the address.
“Well, when I first walked up, I heard a baby crying. And I thought to myself, `What in the world is going on?’ Because they were by the lake, and I couldn’t see them yet. And I shined my flashlight to the area,” Earp said.
Earp told the AP he saw one child above the water, crying. Then he saw a second child who was completely submerged in the water.
“I dropped some of my equipment and I immediately just ran into the water and grabbed both of them,” Earp said.
Earp pulled the children, ages 3 and 5 from the water. A 7-year-old boy had been able to get away and run for help at a nearby business.
“And within a few moments, two other city officers arrived on scene. One that was unconscious, they started doing first aid to her. The other one who was crying, I took her to the gazebo to get her away from her sister.”
Earp said he and other responding officers took turns performing CPR on the unresponsive girl until EMS arrived.
“And we worked on her for, it felt like a good fifteen or twenty minutes or so. And they put her on the stretcher and took her off to the hospital,” Earp told the AP.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter, the children’s father, is facing three counts of attempted murder after the incident on Sunday evening.
Lassiter, 29, of Holloway Terrace in Raleigh, made a frantic 911 call to ask for an ambulance after authorities said he threw he kids in the water.
Earp said he was in shock after hearing the child crying.
“I was just glad that I heard the crying and I was kind of shocked,” he said. “You know, it’s a lot different when it comes to kids. I mean, it really takes a toll on you.”
In Lassiter’s 911 call, he expressed he was dealing with having sexual feelings toward children.
“CPS was trying to take my kids away from me. All I did was try to go get help because I was dealing with some [inaudible] things, OK? I was dealing with some sexual desires,” Lassiter said in the 911 call.
Earp said the situation is “sickening.”
“I mean, when I hear that, it’s sickening. And I’m sure there has to be something mentally going on with that person to do such a thing to their child, or any child,” Earp said.
The 3-year-old girl is in critical condition and the 5-year-old girl is in stable condition, according to the sheriff’s office. The 7-year-old boy was with relatives.
Lassiter is in Durham County Jail under a $2,250,000.