‘Guardian angel’ finds 5-year-old girl with autism wading in waist-deep marsh water

Jake Manna honored by the Plymouth Police Department (Photo credit: Plymouth Police Department)

A man who waded through waist-deep marsh water to save a missing 5-year-old girl with autism is "going viral" in Massachusetts for all the right reasons. 

Police in Plymouth, Massachusetts, said Jake Manna, who’s not from Plymouth, was installing solar panels Wednesday when he heard that people in the neighborhood were looking for a missing child with autism. Manna stopped his work to help in the search.

Manna walked down a rural trail and spotted a diaper and T-shirt in a stream. Police said he "panicked" and ran down the stream to a marsh, where he found the missing child wading in waist-deep water. He called out to her, but she didn’t listen and continued walking farther into the marsh.

From there, he got in the marsh and "put her over his shoulder" to get her to safety.

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"Jake is not from Plymouth and doesn't know the area. If he didn't pick that path and see the missing clothing, we hate to think about what the outcome would have been," the police department said on Facebook.

Vinnie Roth, the officer who responded to the original missing child call, said the girl "had a guardian angel" with her that day — "and his name was Jake."

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"He is the nicest, most unassuming man that one could meet," police said. "He also has great hair!"

The town’s police chief honored Manna with a certificate and command coin as a thanks for saving the child.