MIDLOTHIAN, Va. (WRIC) — A local doctor is being recognized for his heroic efforts to save a woman from an icy pond.
“God has a plan and puts people in situations to be his tool to help people,” Dr. Matthew Bartholomew said.
Back in February of 2015, a 65-year-old woman’s car slid on a patch of ice off of Legordon Road in Midlothian and into a frozen pond. Bartholomew happened to be driving by when he noticed a panicked bystander calling for help.
“What went through my mind was, she wasn’t going to get to us, so we got to get to her,” Bartholomew recalled.
Bartholomew, used to saving lives in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital, now found himself trying to save this woman from the freezing water. He stripped down and jumped in.
“That first sort of plunge into the water, it’s shocking to go into ice cold water,” Bartholomew said.
Using a rock, he smashed the driver’s side window, but the woman wasn’t there. The car started to plunge just as a Chesterfield police officer arrived. The officer gave Bartholomew his baton and a life rope. With the car submerged Bartholomew started to worry.
“I was real concerned that she wasn’t going to be awake,” he said. “If the car went all the way under, if I broke the window and she didn’t come out, was I actually going to have to go under the water and actually into the car to find her?”
But after smashing the back window, the woman popped up and both were pulled to safety.
“I talk about God sending me there because he needed somebody just dumb enough to go into the water,” Bartholomew.
Now Bartholomew, along with 25 others from across the country and Canada, are being honored with a Carnegie medal. The award was established in 1904 and given to civilians who go through great lengths and risk their lives to save others.
“I certainly didn’t go into this looking for glory and accolade. I just wanted to help somebody,” said Bartholomew.
“I talk about God sending me there because he needed somebody just dumb enough to go into the water.”
He says he’s received a lot of praise, but if there’s one thing he wants people to take away from his story, it’s to help people when you feel like you can.
“Unfortunately I think a lot of people put their head in the sand and just don’t want to get involved,” he said. “If you’re instinct is to help, you do what you can. I’d like everybody to be involved and just look out for each other.”