Bodycam video shows Jacksonville police searching pond after car crashes during pursuit

JSO says the driver, Pamela Cabrera, was rescued, but her 5-year-old daughter, Vanity, died

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – News4JAX has obtained police-worn body camera video of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s desperate search after a car fleeing officers crashed into a retention pond nearly a year ago.

Inside the car were 5-year-old Vanity Cabrera, and her mother, Pamela Cabrera, who had lost custody of her daughter.

According to JSO, the driver led police on a 30-mile chase from the Northside to Interstate 95 before the car crashed into a retention pond near the State Road 9B exit.

Officers were able to rescue the driver, but not the girl.

The bodycam footage shows a search complicated by poor visibility—the car couldn’t be seen from above the water and it was getting dark.

“About halfway in the retention pond, I do not see the vehicle anymore,” police can be heard saying.

Officers are seen parking near the water’s edge and scrambling to their feet.

“Hey there’s a victim in there, right?” police say. “We need to get in there.”

Officers can be seen throwing down heavy equipment and plunging into the water around 7 p.m. March 31. Bodycam footage shows them submerged in dark water as they search for the car’s occupants.

“Where’s the car?” police ask.

In the video, they soon pull in a woman who police said clung to a tire to stay afloat. Police then try to figure out where to look next.

“Cuffing her. Was there a child in the car?” an officer says.

Another officer responds, “The problem is we don’t know where the car is.”

According to police records, the dive team was requested immediately after the crash, but it wasn’t in the water until more than an hour and a half later.

“Dive team … trying to get everyone together, but I think it’s going to be an hour ETA,” police say.

In the meantime, multiple officers searched the water for the missing child.

“That’s why I wasn’t going to let go. That’s why I wasn’t giving up. That’s why, even when I lost sight of her,” an officer says.

They were not able to get to the car.

“He said you couldn’t even touch it with your feet. It’s got to be 8 feet deep,” an officer says.

According to police, by the time the dive team found the child, she was already dead at the bottom of the pond.

The driver remains in the Duval County jail after a judge found her not competent to stand trial. Court records show her next hearing for a review of her case will be held next month.

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