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Deputy Bobby Hau Pham (Clermont County Sheriff's Office, Ohio)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

Monday, November 23, 2021, at 19:43 hours, Sheriff's Patrol units were dispatched to patrol the East Fork Lake area for a female threatening suicide by drowning. The female had contacted the Mobile Crisis Hotline and made suicidal statements; Mobile Crisis then relayed the details to the Clermont County Communications Center.

The female was purportedly driving a white Buick sedan with Ohio license plates. Attempts to ping the female's phone were not returning a location, however, at 20:07 hours, Deputy Bobby Pham advised that he had located a vehicle matching the description, and was behind the vehicle on Reisinger Road, which is in the East Fork Lake region. Deputy Pham reported that he attempted to make contact with the female driver, however, she drove the vehicle down a boat ramp and into the East Fork Lake.

Deputy Pham radioed the communication center several moments later advising that the vehicle was beginning to go underwater, and he would be temporarily unable to communicate on the radio.

Although unable to swim, Deputy Pham ran down the boat ramp and entered the water in an attempt to pull the female from the vehicle, which was quickly submerging. Unable to do so as the vehicle was sinking further into the lake, Deputy Pham returned to the shore where he removed his duty belt, uniform shirt, and body armor vest, so he would not be weighed down.

Deputy Pham returned, jumped into the lake, and began towards the vehicle while giving the female verbal commands to roll down the window. At this time the vehicle was approximately 30 feet away from the ramp and 50% submerged under water. The female cooperated and rolled down the window. Deputy Pham continued giving instructions to the female to climb out of the vehicle and swim toward him. The female explained that she could not swim. Deputy Pham talked the female into sitting on the window edge of the door and holding onto the roof of the vehicle. At the depth of approximately 4 feet, current began to pull Deputy Pham further into the lake as he approached the vehicle.

At this time an Ohio Department of Natural Resource officer arrived on the scene. Deputy Pham was able to yell out for him to secure a rope. ODNR officer obtained 50-foot rope and a life jacket. Deputy Pham continued to communicate with the female, who remained in the door window of the vehicle that was approximately 55 feet away from the ramp and 80% submerged underwater.

Prior to reaching the vehicle, Deputy Pham ran out of rope, however, was able to reach the hood of the vehicle, which was submerged, and climb on top of it. While standing on the hood of the submerging vehicle, Deputy Pham was able to pull the female from the window of the vehicle by her shirt, as the vehicle became fully submerged. While holding the female with one arm, Deputy Pham was able to get to the length of rope still in the water. ODNR was able to pull Deputy Pham and the female safely back to shore.

EMS responded to treat the female and Deputy Pham for their exposure to the water and environment. The ambient temperature at the time was 28 degrees, and the water temperature was 49 degrees. Due to shock and hypothermia concerns, both the female and Deputy Pham were transported by ambulance to Clermont Mercy Hospital for further evaluation. After medical clearance, the female was placed on an emergency psychological hold.

Deputy Pham displayed unusual initiative and determination in the performance of his duties. He clearly saved the female involved and his actions on this date were nothing short of heroic.

Deputy Pham's actions illustrated courage and determination. He risked his personal safety to protect and save the life of a citizen. Deputy Pham's actions are the very core of the commitment of a Deputy Sheriff's commitment to the community.

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Date Created: November 15, 2023