In my twenties, my family celebrated Thanksgiving in New England and after the meal we took a walk in the chilly afternoon. Stupidly, I told my brother I’d pay him fifty bucks if he jumped in the Connecticut River. I say stupidly because he was up to the challenge, and he ripped off his clothes (well not all of them) and jumped in. Which meant that -- unless I wanted to immediately forfeit my Man Card -- I had to take the arctic plunge too.
Years later, having learned nothing apparently, I challenged my then pre-teen daughter to a similar dare, and like my brother, she bravely called my bluff and I was once again forced to jump into freezing water. If you’ve ever taken such a dive, you know it absolutely takes your breath away and you feel like you’ve been hit by a 2x4.
None of that entered the mind of Vermont Trooper Michelle Archer on December 17 when she was called to the scene after an 8-year-old girl playing with her sibling fell into a frigid pond in Lamoille County. The sibling was rescued by a neighbor, but the 8-year-old was stuck underneath in the icy water, location unknown. Although this happened in late 2023, Vermont State Police only released the footage Friday.
Archer grabbed a flotation device and breathlessly sprinted to the scene. When she got to the pond, there was no sign of the girl and the surface of the water was disturbingly smooth. Archer did the only thing she could – she dived in to rescue the child.
The unbelievable bodycam video shows her swimming underwater, finding the girl, pulling her to shore, and then getting her to safety up on the ice. True bravery and competence.
Watch the incredible footage:
Amazingly, the youngster was still alive:
“Call rescue!” Trooper Archer can be heard calling out to her colleague, identified as Trooper Keith Cote, while the girl moaned and retched.
Trooper Archer could be seen applying some pressure to the girl’s chest and then turning her sideways.
“Keith, she’s making noises! She’s making noise! Can you grab an arm? Let’s bring her closer,” Trooper Archer said, the video shows
“Come here, baby girl,” Trooper Cote repeatedly said to the girl, before carrying her away to an ambulance nearby.
"There wasn’t a whole lot of thinking going on," Archer told a local news outlet. "Something was taking over – training. It was the opposite of panic."
Vermont State Police (VSP) officials nominated the homeowner and the two troopers for the VSP Lifesaving Award in honor of their heroic efforts. In my humble opinion, they should all three get it.
The child was taken to the University of Vermont Medical Center and was released after several days of treatment. But that wouldn't be the case if not for the quick thinking of Trooper Archer, and we can truly say, Michelle, you were a hero that day.