Patrolman Eric Ibanez thought the two little girls were dead.
He found them in the hallway of their Kansas City, Kan., home, soaking wet, unresponsive, after their mother had attempted to drown them.
Ibanez's quick response in the moments that followed helped save the girls' lives. The Lawrence native was honored for his rescue efforts as part of the Kansas City, Kan., police department's annual awards ceremony last Thursday.
"I've seen a lot in 11 years, but I'd say that's probably the most intense thing I've had to deal with," said Ibanez, who graduated from Lawrence High School in 1998 before becoming a police officer in 2003. "I'm glad it worked out OK. It did catch me off guard, but I just kind of had to react and do something."
Ibanez responded to the call on the afternoon of April 2, 2013. He discovered a young woman pacing nervously inside the home, saying she had drowned her kids because they were sick. He attempted to resuscitate the girls, ages 1 and 4, before paramedics arrived. The older girl started gasping for air; her younger sister's prognosis didn't look good.
The mother, Johnna Green, was sentenced in February to nearly a decade in prison for two counts of second-degree attempted murder. She said she was having schizophrenic delusions at the time of the incident.
As for the girls, they made a full recovery. They even sent Ibanez a Christmas card last year.