There was a story in the Lockport Daily Journal from New York, June 29th 1874.
A man with manacled hands saves the life of a child.
We wish to notice the heroic conduct of George Bellhymer; who, while the steamer Dakota was passing through Goose Rapids, on her last trip, performed one of the most heroic and daring feats it has ever been our fortune to witness. Mr. Bellhymer was at the time under guard and securely handcuffed, for an alleged offence of larceny. Among the passengers on board was Mrs. White and six children from Port Prairie Ontario, on her way to join her husband in Manitoba. Sabbath afternoon, while her children, with others, were playing about the deck, little Emma fell from the boat to the river below and at the stern of the boat. At once all was confusion, the women shrieked and the men shouted: all but Mr Bellhymer, who jumped to his feet without and instance’s hesitation, with heavy boots and clothing upon his person, and his hands closely held together, sprang from the hurricane deck and swam to the rescue of the struggling child. He caught the child and raised it to the surface, but the rapid current swept him under and carried the child from his shackled hands; again he came to the surface and again he caught the child and again began to struggle to keep above water, while scores of men, and good swimmers, stood by and waited for the boat to reach the struggling man and little child. They were saved and returned to the boat, where the passengers did all they could to show Mr Bellhymer their appreciation of his conduct. A testimonial was presented him before reaching Pembina by those who witnessed his daring leap and struggle in the water. Fargo Minn Express
One version of the story that I read in a book was that he ended up hanging on the to child with her dress in his teeth. The story was related during his trial and he was acquitted. The book also said that he had originally resorted to stealing food and clothing because he had a wife and child to support and no job. He was an iron smith by trade. George and his family moved to Winnipeg and the father of Emma helped George set up a blacksmith shop.