National News

Mesa hero cops who saved 12-year-old swept down raging canal share story

Posted July 26

— Two Mesa police officers who helped save a 12-year-old boy being swept away in a raging canal described the rescue as a well-coordinated effort that had the best outcome possible.

"This could have turned out very tragically for that young man and his family," Officer Jeff Covington, the first officer to help carry the boy to safety, said. "If you look at all the parts in play it all adds up to him being saved and coming out alive."

The 12-year-old ended up in a canal in Mesa Monday, after the morning monsoon storm. The water was rushing and the boy was being swept downstream. A passerby heard the screams, realized what was happening and called 911.

"It's definitely something that you don't expect every day, but at the same time you always anticipate that that call is going to come out," Officer Robert Ravago, who responded to the call, explained.

When the officers arrived, the boy had somehow made it out of the canal and onto a river bottom-like area along the fence where the water was still threatening.

"When I first spotted him he was … luckily it was kind of a sigh of relief because he was standing against a chain linked fence," Covington said. "He's there but we can't get to him. You've got an 8- or 10-foot chain linked fence with barbed wire on top. It was severely muddy. Units are stuck, ambulances were stuck trying to get to him."

While Covington stripped off his ballistic vest and equipment, Ravago ran downstream to try to get ahead of the boy.

"Officer Covington, right here, he told me, 'If you're going to be near the canal start stripping down some gear,'" Ravago said. "So, the moment he said that, I was starting to take the vest off because I was getting ready to further down west. If I had saw [sic] him, I was going to have to jump in for him, too. I was leap frogging across all the other officers to see if … I wanted to be the last barricade if he made it to me."

Covington said he knew every second counted. He said he ran about 50 yards to a place where he could get over a gate in the fence. He then got to the boy and helped him over.

Covington said he could see the boy's feet were cut and that it was painful for him to walk. He lifted the boy over his shoulder and started trekking through the mud toward safety.

Ravago said he saw his fellow officer and knew he needed to get to him to help.

"I could see that he's carrying him a long way," Ravago said. "It's muddy. It's not always the easiest thing to do, especially once we've already had an adrenaline rush. I was already stripped down, so, I said, 'Let me make it through there.' So I crawled under some barbed wire fence and started making my way towards Jeff to assist him."

Covington said he was glad to see Ravago because the trek was exhausting. Both men said they found the boy to be in good spirits and toughing out the situation pretty well.

The officers said the passerby who called 911 is really the one who helped save the boy's life, but they believe they had a part in things ending as they did.

"If I had to see this little boy go by, and it was too late for me to reach him, that's hard to imagine," said Ravago.

"We were prepared 100 percent to save that child's life and do what we needed to do, even at a danger to ourselves," said Covington.

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