Miami Gardens police officer with lifeguard experience saves man from drowning in lake

Department's 1st female K-9 officer rescues kayaker who didn't know how to swim

By Janine Stanwood - Anchor/Reporter

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. - Miami Gardens Police Department officers are hailing one of their colleagues a hero after she rescued a man from drowning in a neighborhood lake.

Witnesses recorded videos that appear to show Kenneth Hartley in the water with Officer Sylvia Caceres, the department's first woman to work as a K-9 officer.

According to officers, neighbors called 911 when Hartley fell off a kayak. Caceres, who has experience as a lifeguard, was the first to arrive.

"I didn't think about it. I just jumped in," Caceres said. "I think it's what any officer would have done."

Caceres said the first thing she did was to make sure Hartley was calm.

"I had asked him if he knew how to swim. He said no, so the first thing I thought to do was to get him to stay afloat," Caceres said. "I gave him the kayak. Once I got there, I just tried to keep him calm, because I know a lot of people panic."

Caceres remained with Hartley until Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel arrived. When Hartley refused to be taken to the hospital, they had to handcuff him. On Wednesday afternoon, he was released and said he was doing well.

Caceres said she believes her colleagues would have been able to deal with the uncooperative man just the same. 

"We're all heroes. I mean, all these guys would have done it, had they gotten there before me," Caceres said. "I am sure. It's what we do."

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