Published: Aug 10, 2010 5:19 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 10, 2010 2:20 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Cameron announced today that K9 Corporal Emmett Merritt Jr. was named by the Florida Sheriff's Association as runner-up for "2010 Deputy Sheriff of the Year."

The FSA recognized Cpl. Merritt for a Feb. 26 incident when he responded to a traffic crash on Veterans Highway. An Arcadia couple told Cpl. Merritt the woman with two small children got out of the car and went toward the lake in front of the Tuscany apartment complex. The woman jumped into the lake with her children ages 9 months and 2 years of age, and tried to drown them. Cpl. Merritt and an apartment resident went into the lake and wrestled the children away from the mother and got them safely ashore. Cpl. Merritt went back into the water and pulled the woman out even though she fought him and continue to say the children should die.

Sheriff Cameron honored Cpl. Merritt on May 12 at an awards luncheon with the Law Enforcement "Lifesaver Award" and also sent his nomination to the FSA for consideration of the 2010 Deputy Sheriff of the Year honor. This morning Sheriff Cameron presented the plaque to Cpl. Merritt which read, "For your heroism in rescuing two young children in an attempted drowning by their mother." According to FSA officials, Orange County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Kleinfelt won the top honor and Cpl. Merritt was runner-up.