Matthew Arrant left his home on Caples Road in West Monroe one morning in late June and watched in shock as a silver SUV lost control, flipped onto its roof and landed in a creek about 150 feet in front of him.
He ran to the overturned truck and saw an injured and disoriented Joy Anders desperately trying to get out of her seatbelt.Arrant saw a deep gash on the woman's forehead and tried to communicate with her. She was able to tell him that her 18-month-old daughter, Melody, was buckled in a car seat behind her.Arrant began checking the doors.He saw the bottom of the child's car seat sticking out of the water. The baby was submerged.He reached into the car and lifted the car seat through the door. Melody was still strapped in. Her skin was blue, and she was not breathing.
Arrant, 23, a physical therapist technician at an orthopedic clinic on Lamy Lane in Monroe, began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, using two-finger compressions. He learned the method five years ago as a freshman at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
He said when Melody started coughing, he released her seatbelt and continued the compressions.Arrant knew she was OK when she started crying and opened her eyes.
Minutes later, Ouachita Parish first responders arrived.
Deputies confirmed the incident.
"I lost all concept of time," Arrant said. "I had never messed with a car seat before."He credits the morning's events to providence more than chance. So does Joy Anders."God put him there at that moment, and he was our angel," she said. "If it had not been for him being there we would not be here."
Arrant agrees. "I could have left the house a minute too soon or a minute too late and I would have never seen the wreck," he said. "God definitely had his hand on this situation."His mother, Sandy Arrant, arrived and saw his truck and the emergency vehicles but did not immediately see her son.
She said she thought he had been in a wreck or was getting a ticket until she saw him sitting in wet clothes on the guardrail. Deputies told her what happened.
"I just hugged him," she said. "I was proud of him."
Chris Anders, Joy Anders husband and Melody's father, were about a half-mile from the scene.
He said an aunt called him. All he knew was that their vehicle had overturned, his wife was believed to be OK, but that his daughter was not breathing.
"It was really disturbing, to put it lightly," Chris Anders said. "Losing a daughter and then having to resuscitate her — it was like a part of me could have died."
Mother and child were taken to a hospital. Joy was released that day. Melody was admitted and was released July 4. Doctors believe she suffered no long-term damage.
Matthew Arrant and the Anders have become friends since the wreck.
"In my mind, and I have told him the same, he is a true hero," said Chris Anders.
Arrant's father, Capt. Bobby Arrant, is a Monroe firefighter.
"My wife called and said: 'You want to hear a good story?' " Bobby Arrant said. "And I said, 'Yes ma'am, I'd like to hear a good story."
He called his son as soon as he could and told him, "I'm proud to be the daddy of a hero."
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