TAMPA (FOX 13) - A Tampa woman and her teenage daughter witnessed a daring rescue performed by Tampa Police Department's ROC squad #231 early Wednesday morning.
The mother-daughter team called officers for help after hearing desperate cries from a kitten trapped in a storm drain, but this rescue was just the beginning of the little kitty's story.
Tiara Batista said after she and her daughter, Kayliah heard the cat crying, they tried to get it to come to them using food and kitten noises on Youtube videos, but it was too scared to come out. Batista said Kayliah was "too stubborn to walk away," so they contacted police for help.
That's when the ROC squad showed up.
"His cries were weakening and we knew time wasn't on our side," Batista told FOX 13 News. "These fine men physically lifted the very heavy street grate, slowed traffic on Fowler Ave and proceeded to enter down the drain to rescue this sweet little guy who is about 6-weeks-old."
One of those fine men - Officer Andrew "Drew" Trotta - got a ladder and lowered himself into the drain, which drops about 12-feet underground.
Pictures taken by the ROC squad show Officer Trotta shining light into one of the several pipes leading to the storm drain. With a flashlight and a smile, Trotta coaxed the kitten to safety.
The rescue was complete just before 1 a.m. Wednesday and Batista and Kayliah took the little guy home.
Kayliah, who works at a nearby WaWa, would not be satisfied until the kitty - temporarily named Drain Kitty - had a loving, forever home. So she started asking everyone she knew if they were ready to be pet parents. It turns out, her store manager was and came to pick Drain Kitty - now named Simba - up Wednesday evening.
"She is an amazing, hard working, smart young lady," Batista said of her daughter. "I'm so thankful."
Batista reports Simba happily went home with his new owners and is likely settling into his new home.