North Carolina Deputy Saves Drowning Kids From Pond, Dad Charged

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/ Source: Associated Press

A North Carolina sheriff's deputy plunged into the pond of an apartment complex at night to rescue two young girls who, cops say, had been thrown there to drown by their father.

Durham County Sheriff's Deputy David Earp was off duty and says he rushed out with little more than his department T-shirt, badge and flashlight after the apartment manager called him at home around 9 p.m. Sunday to report some kind of trouble.

"After I was informed that there were kids involved, instinct took over just to go out there and rescue them," Earp said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Earp, who lives around the corner from the pond, spotted the girls in the dark with his flashlight and saw a 5-year-old floating and crying. Her 3-year-old sister was fully submerged.

Earp said he charged into water about five feet deep and scooped them up, holding one in each arm. He took no notice of the girls' father, Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter, 29, of Raleigh — the man who was later charged with trying to drown his kids.

Earp said the girls were about 10 feet from the bank, which slopes sharply down to the pond that stretches about the length of a football field.

The five-year veteran of the sheriff's department said he and the arriving officers from the Durham police department performed cardio-pulmonary resuscitation on the 3-year-old for about 15 minutes until medical help arrived.

Police said the younger girl was in critical condition Tuesday and the older girl in good condition.

Between expletive-laden rage and distraught sobs, Lassiter told a dispatcher that officials had tried to take away his children as he dealt with a personal problem, authorities said.

He can be heard on the call telling the complex's property manager, "I just drowned my two daughters in the lake back there."

Earp, who frequently drives through the complex in his marked patrol car, arrived seconds later.

As the deputy retrieved the girls, Lassiter was standing nearby smoking a cigarette, then became distraught, saying "what have I done?" and started crying, Scott said.

He did not live at the apartment complex, and Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez said he apparently went there at random.