Stephen D. Rhodes

A fish and wildlife enforcement officer jumped into action on May 7, 2022, to save a 7-year-old girl who was trapped underwater beneath an overturned boat in the Gulf of Mexico off of Grand Isle, Louisiana. After the boat capsized, eight of the nine passengers escaped the boat and climbed on top of the outside of the hull, but Jacqueline Toledo, a little girl who was wearing a life vest, was missing. After responding to the scene, Stephen D. Rhodes, 51, of Houma, Louisiana, removed his ballistic vest, duty belt, and firearm, left his boat, and swam under the capsized boat, searching for Jacqueline with his arms in front of him. Failing to find her, he came back up to the surface for a breath of air and then submerged again. Failing to find her on his second attempt, Rhodes held onto the gunwale of the boat and used his legs to probe the underside of the boat until he felt something brush against his foot. Rhodes submerged again, swam 4 feet to Jacqueline who was unconscious, and brought her to the surface. Others took her to Rhodes’ boat, where Rhodes returned and performed CPR. Jacqueline was resuscitated and she recovered. Rhodes was not injured.