Florida Toddler Survives Under Capsized Boat by Staying in Air Pocket: 'This Was Truly a Miracle,' Says Mom
"We couldn't tell if she was in the boat or trapped under the boat," said Tammy Bossard
Tammy and Brian Bossard almost lost their 23-month-old daughter late Friday night when their family boat hit a power line and flipped over on Florida’s Indian River.
But thanks to the persistent, brave actions of the Cocoa Beach, Florida, police department, Kennedy – who was found tucked inside an air pocket under the vessel – is safe and back with her parents and 7-month-old sister, Charlotte.
“This was truly a miracle,” Tammy tells PEOPLE. “It’s just unreal, it’s every parents worst nightmare to think that you could lose your child, and this was so real it was a nightmare come to life.”
“We are so, so lucky.”
The family of four was returning from dinner at Grills Riverside Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar when the boat capsized, sending all four passengers into the river.
“I’m in the river. My boat crashed and I have a baby still in the water. Please God send someone now … please hurry!” Tammy screamed in a chilling 911 call.
“I woke up in the water with Charlotte in my arms,” explains Tammy. “Brian came up around the top of the boat.”
“We yelled and called to [Kennedy] as we waited for first responders and then we quieted down after our initial shock and that’s when we heard her cry. Brian dove under the boat time after time again, but couldn’t find her because it was pitch dark outside.”
Authorities were quick to arrive at the scene and immediately located Tammy, Brian and Charlotte.
But Kennedy was nowhere to be found.
“It was pure terror, just absolute terror to know that your baby is alone, is in the river, and you don’t have eyes on her,” Tammy explains. “She’s very tough, but we knew she was scared and there was nothing we could do.”
An hour passed before Officer Matt Rush and Cpl. Alan Worthy spotted the toddler caught underneath the boat – alive thanks to an air pocket that was created when the vessel overturned. The officers immediately dove into the water and pulled her out from under the hull.
Kennedy was found wearing her life jacket – something Tammy and Brian had insisted on before setting out in the boat – and in stable condition.
“We were getting ready to leave and we did hear a cry coming from the boat… I could hear her saying something inside,” Rush told FloridaToday.com.
“Usually incidents like this don’t turn out like this. A boating accident that severe with that much damage could have been a lot worse. Air pocket in the boat and a life jacket I would say saved her life.”
The toddler suffered minor injuries including a black eye and a scratch on her face, but is now home after spending two nights at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando.
“I would tell any parent that your child’s life is more important than anything,” says Tammy. “Make sure if you are on a boat they are wearing a life jacket! It saved Kennedy.”
The family says their boat “No Tomorrow” is completely totaled, but it will take some time for them to get back out on the water.
“But when we’re ready we have already decided on a new name for our boat,” says Tammy. “We are going to call it ‘Second Chance’ because Kennedy got a second chance at life.”