DALLAS — They say they had little time to think; only time to react.
“I have children and I couldn’t sit there and watch them drown without doing something,” said Dallas police Senior Cpl. Monte Cates, a 22-year veteran.
Cates and Officer Julian Harris were honored Wednesday for their heroic actions last week in helping save two of the five boys who were nearly swept away by flood-swollen creek waters in South Dallas.
They received the Courage Award from the Dallas Police Association.
Last Thursday, five boys skipped school and were playing in a creek in the 300 block of Glen Oaks Boulevard, south of Ledbetter Drive and west of Interstate 35E.
“They picked a day when we had one of our worst storms in a long time,” said Dallas Police Association president Ron Pinkston. “They were playing around when they were swept off their feet by the flash flood.”
Cates and Harris — a rookie who finished the academy less than three months ago — responded to the call. Firefighters were already at the scene.
“They were huddled together at the bottom, holding on to each other so they wouldn’t be swept away,” Cates said. “The river was actually a creek, but it was swelling so much and going so fast, I would call it a miniature river at that point.”
Harris said the water was moving very quickly and it was clear “they didn’t have much time.” Before rescuers could get a boat into the creek, the rushing water started to sweep the boys away.
“We ran toward them because we thought they were all going to drawn,” Cates said. “I didn’t know it at the time, but there was a tunnel that the water funneled into, and if we didn’t get them, they would definitely have drowned.”
Cates said as he ran toward the water, he fell head-first seven feet into the river. He said he helped pulled one of the boys out as he struggled to keep himself from being swept away.
Harris said it’s certainly not what he expected this early on the job, and he was humble about his actions that day.
Both said they were just doing their job — and they’d do it again.