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Police in Fla. Rescue Toddler, Mom From Car in Lake


One person is dead and two others, including a 3-year-old girl, were rushed to a hospital after the car in which they were riding plunged into a small lake in Pembroke Park about midnight Tuesday, police said.

The Broward Sheriff's Office said the incident began with an argument between Catherine Copeland, 33, and her husband, Sandro Michel, 27, at a Racetrack gas station on Pembroke Road.

Family members said they do not know what started the argument, which got so volatile that bystanders called 911. Deputies arrived almost immediately, and Copeland later told relatives that Michel panicked, driving away in the car, with his wife and their 3-year-old daughter, Syriah Michel, inside.

"He was telling her that he didn't want to go to jail. I guess he tried to run, because she was driving, but he went and placed his foot on the gas, attempting to get away. The car hit the bank, and from the bank, the car submerged into the water," said Copeland's cousin, Fredericka Taylor.

Deputies arrived and went into the water after them.

"He immediately disrobed and got her out of the water, and she was screaming, 'My baby, my baby, my baby,'" said Cpl. Rochelle Richardson, of the Broward Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Cazi Navarro saw a diaper floating and grabbed it.

"I don't know how I grabbed it. All I know is that by the time I was getting reeled in, I had (Syriah) by the feet, and she was out of the water, and I was getting the water out of her lungs," Navarro said.

Paramedics were able to find a pulse and took the child and her mother to a hospital.

Rescue crews from Davie, Hallandale Beach and Hollywood and the Broward Sheriff's Office dive team were at the scene near Southwest 40th Avenue and 20th Street all night. A helicopter was also used to search for the submerged car from above.

Michel's body was pulled from the water about 4 a.m. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The car in which they were riding was recovered from the water.

The child was in critical condition and remained in the intensive care unit at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital late Tuesday morning. Her mother was at her bedside.

"It's very tragic, but it's overwhelming at the same time. We're just at the bedside, praying," Taylor said.

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