Richmond FD pulls 2 girls from river after one slips off rock

Published: May. 11, 2015 at 12:44 AM EDT|Updated: May. 21, 2015 at 4:11 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A family is thanking God this Mother's Day after their two young girls were rescued from nearly drowning in the James River. The girls were trapped on a rock after Natalie, 9, slipped into the water, and several people jumped in after her, including her 13-year-old cousin, Dasia.

Amazingly, Dasia was able to battle the rapids, catch up to her little cousin, and pull her onto the rocks. Firefighters say it was a situation that could've turned much worse, very quickly.

NBC12 cameras were rolling as the swarms of firefighters safely pulled Natalie and Dasia to shore on a raft. Their family waited nervously for the chance to hold their daughters tightly, once again.

"That was God. God made them get safe and sound to us," said Kia Watkins, who was with the family on their trip to the river.

Natalie's mom Sonja Ford, says her daughter slipped while dipping her feet in the water. Dasia didn't hesitate to swim after her.

"They got swept away by the waves, it took them," said Ford.

The girls' older cousin, and two other men, also swam after the girls.

"I heard two girls screaming, and I looked out… and they were floating down this river. And I didn't hesitate. I jumped in," said Aaron Vickery, one of the men who went after the girls.

Vickery waited with the girls on the rock for help. Firefighters secured the girls with live vests, and pull the group to shore in a raft.

"Everybody is all scratched up and scared, but they're fine," continued Ford, who says she is very grateful for all who helped to save her daughter and niece.

Firefighters rescued at least six people from the river on Mother's Day. The river is currently rushing at over five feet, so anyone purposefully in the water is required to wear a personal flotation device or life jacket.

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