HOMESTEAD, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida father is opening up and expressing his gratitude toward the police officers who jumped into action when he and his son found themselves fighting for their lives in a canal.

Derrance Hatfield said he’s infinitely grateful after a group of Homestead Police officers risked their lives to save him and his 8-year-old son from drowning, Saturday morning.

“I was very thankful, I’m still very thankful, I will always be thankful,” he said.

Hatfield said what he described as a near death experience happened when he and his son DJ were fishing in the canal off Southwest 344th Street in Homestead when his son, who can’t swim, fell into the water and quickly began to struggle.

“When I saw that, I knew that I had to get where he was and get in that water. Whether I could swim or not, I had to go try,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and let my son die.”

Unable to swim himself due to a stroke he suffered in 2021, Hatfield said he jumped in anyway.

“I brought him in some and, of course, because I had the stroke, my wind and stuff is not the same, so I had to go and get me a break and then go back and get him,” he said.

Fortunately, help was just feet away.

“As soon as I heard the father screaming, it brought my attention over here,” said Homestead Police Officer Salvador Lopez.

Lopez said he and two other officers were working at a nearby intersection when they raced over.

“I went ahead and jumped in with all my duty gear and brought the juvenile male up to the pavement. I was able to bring him to safety,” he said.

Thankful to be alive. Hatfield said he and his son wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the officers’ heroic actions.

“I really want to say thank you so much,” said DJ.

“I’ve had so many experiences with these officers in my lifetime, and to meet an officer who was kind enough to do his job,” said Hatfield, “and it wasn’t like he did his job; he did what a man should do, is help a man help a child.”

The father and son were not hurt and are doing OK.

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