Eighty-one-year-old Harry Smith was walking his dog when his wheelchair got caught in the slush and tipped him over into the lake.
An elderly man would have lost his life if it hadn't been for his heroic dog. Harry Smith, who uses a wheelchair, fell into the lake after his wheelchair lost traction and flipped him onto the lake in Port St. Lucie. Harry Smith, who doesn't know to swim, was struggling to stay afloat and there seemed to be no one around who had heard him fall or heard his cry for help. Sarah Jane, Smith's dog of 7 years, realized what was happening and started barking loudly, with uncharacteristic vigor. Two people, who were in the vicinity, could distinctly detect an element of panic in the beagle's barking and rushed to the lake and saw Smith close to drowning. They alerted a PSLPD Officer Doty who jumped in along with the bystanders and hauled him out, reported WPTV.
Harry was out walking his dog, Sarah Jane, when his wheel got caught in the mulch, turning him around and down into the pond.— Andrew Lofholm (@AndrewLofholm) February 4, 2022
Neighbors heard Sarah Jane barking and Harry yelling “HELP!” @PSLPolice were flagged down.
They all helped him out, saving his life. @CBS12 pic.twitter.com/0s8fygh5zx
Two officers from the Port St. Lucie Police Department arrived and helped the elderly man onto his electric wheelchair, which had broken down. The Port St. Lucie Police Department praised Harry Smith's canine friend for saving her caretaker's life. "Mr. Smith began to yell for help as he could not swim and struggled to stay afloat. Sensing his owner was in trouble, his dog began to bark loudly which alerted 2 bystanders across the street," wrote Port St. Lucie Police Department on Facebook. They alerted the PSLPD Officer Doty who was driving on Airoso Blvd.
"Officer Doty exited his patrol vehicle and observed Mr. Smith was submerged up to his neck in the water. The two bystanders and Officer Doty worked together to pull him out of the water and up the bank," read the post. They gave medical attention on the scene but he didn't suffer any issues. "Due to his electric wheelchair being damaged from falling in the water, Officer Doty and St. Lucie County Fire District assisted by pushing him back to his house," they noted. The Port St. Lucie Police Department posted pictures of Smith resting comfortably on his wheelchair after they rescued him. "We are thankful for Mr. Smith’s dog and the two bystanders that helped save his life! And as the saying remains true… A man’s best friend is his dog," the post continued. Sarah Jane was right beside him in the photographs posted and stuck close to him as the officers walked them home.
Smith later spoke about the close bond she shares with his dog, Sarah Jane. "She's such a good dog. Everybody in this neighborhood loves her, they all look out for her," said Smith. Talking about the incident, he said, "I tried to back around to get out of it and it went straight back instead and right down the embankment and dumped me right in the water." He tried to move towards the bank but he was sinking and he didn't know to swim. As Sarah Jane barked loudly, it was Suhling and his friend Jacob who heard her barking. "When we looked over here the dog was splashing in the water so we both ran over here and I jumped in the water," recalled Edward Suhling. They were working across the street. "Only his head was above the water. The wheelchair was in the water," said Suhling.
Smith joked that he gave her a treat but added that Sarah Jane knows what she means to him. "I love her, always have, always will," he said. The officer who helped pull Smith out of the water would become a father just two days after the incident. Facebook users showered love on the dog. "Thank goodness he has that dog! Saved his life! Thank goodness all ended well," wrote one person.