‘It’s just instinct’: Johnson County, Missouri, sheriff’s corporal jumps into pond to rescue toddler

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JOHNSON COUNTY, Mo. — A horrifying moment for a parent: their toddler nowhere to be found.

That is, until Johnson County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Cpl. Nicole Collins working patrol near Knob Noster literally jumped in to help.

“Can you walk to me?” Collins asked the 2-year-old in the pond. “Oh you’re stuck. OK, I’m going to come.”

The toddler walked into a pond and got stuck in the mud. She was 10-15 feet from the shore with water up to her chin.

“She was scared,” Collins said. “She had her arms up, out of the water reaching for me.”

Without hesitation, Collins dropped her vest and ran toward the pond — training and a little “mama bear” kicked in.

“It’s just instinct. It comes back to us,” Collins said. “Also having kids myself, your natural instinct is to save them no matter what.”

“Tremendous work ethic by Cpl. Collins,” Johnson County, Missouri, Sheriff Scott Munsterman said. “I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

You can see tire track around the pond from neighbors who were searching on four-wheelers and buggies. One woman pulled up right after Collins rescued the girl from the water and thought the worst.

“My heart sank to my feet and I had goose bumps because I was for sure that she had drowned,” neighbor Alicia Smith said. “Until I pulled up and her little head lifted up off the sheriff’s chest and I thank God.”

The toddler had been missing for 20 minutes.

She made it about a hundred yards from her house. She went barefoot down a gravel road, turned a corner and went through a gate to the pond.

“Her mom was standing in the front yard and she had just tears pouring down her face,” Smith said.

The tears didn’t stop when Collins put the little girl back in her mom’s arms. It was a tearful reunion.

But Collins said the toddler stayed tough the entire time.

“Little girl stayed strong,” Collins said. “She was talking about her boo boos, but mom was tearful and thankful to have her back.”

A scary situation that could have turned tragic — if not for Collins quick action.

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