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Man who pulled girl from pond: Her dad was 'more of a hero'

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) -- Devon Starks was released from St. Vincent Hospital on Monday after firefighters say he helped rescue a 3-year-old girl from a frigid pond Sunday.

Starks said he dove into the pond at the Core Riverbend Apartments, swam about 60 feet, grabbed the girl and swam back.

"That little girl's dad, he died saving his daughter's life," Starks said. "He's more of a hero than I am."

Doctors have updated the girl's condition from critical to stable. Her 24-year-old dad, Anthony Burgess Jr., died late Sunday night after investigators said he also jumped in to save her even though he did not know how to swim.

Firefighters said Burgess stepped out of his car in the apartment parking lot to talk to someone and his 3-year-old accidentally hit the gear shift. The car rolled into a pond and Burgess dove in. Investigators said Burgess pulled his daughter from the car just before it sank.

"If he hadn't done that, I wouldn't have been able to save her in the first place," Starks said.

Starks said he didn't know the girl or the dad. He said he stepped out of his apartment after hearing a commotion.

"I was freezing. I've never been in water that cold," Starks said. "If the water hadn't been as cold, I maybe could have gotten both of them."

Doctors at St. Vincent treated Starks for hypothermia. Starks said he doesn't have insurance and he's expecting a big hospital bill, but he'd do it all over again.

Firefighters said several other people on scene also did what they could to help. They also praised witnesses for staying on scene and relaying what they saw.

The Indianapolis Fire Department says that in the case of water emergencies, people should remember the phrase "Reach, throw, row, go." Firefighters say people should try to reach victims with a long object, throw them flotation devices or ropes, or, if possible, reach the victims with a boat. As a last and dangerous resort, strong swimmers can enter the water in certain situations.

Starks said he is a strong swimmer.


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