ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — Search and rescue team members taking part in an ongoing search for a missing hiker Friday found and resuscitated a drowning toddler they discovered face-down in a creek, authorities said.
Members of the Montrose Search & Rescue Team, who were part of a week-long search for a missing Bakersfield man, came upon the toddler shortly after 5 p.m. near the Stonyvale Picnic Site, off of Big Tujunga Canyon road in the Angeles National Forest north of La Crescenta, Los according to Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials.
“Members of one of three teams came upon a 1-and-a-half-year-old girl, face down and lifeless in a pool of running water 200 yards away from the picnic area,” sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
Search and rescue team commander and reserve sheriff’s deputy Janet Henderson, who is also an emergency room nurse at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena, and sheriff’s Reserve Chief Michael Leum rushed to help the girl, as well as the girl’s mother as she realized what was happening.
Henderson said she and her team had only joined the search minutes earlier Friday afternoon when they came upon the distressed baby.
“I looked up and I saw something in the water,” Henderson said. “I yelled for someone to get the baby. At that time, the mother saw that the baby was face-down.”
The mother and rescuers ran toward the baby, Henderson said. The mother reached the child first and pulled the unconscious girl from the water and handed her to Leum.
The girl’s skin was turning blue and she was not breathing, officials said.
“Mike slapped her on the back a couple of times, which actually made the baby expel some water,” Henderson said.
She added that the toddler slowly regained an increasing level of conscious before a helicopter arrived to take her to a hospital for further treatment, though she still showed signs of water intake.
By Saturday morning, she had been released from the hospital, sheriff’s Sgt. Cynthia Gonzalez said.
The toddler, an adult relative and a 3-year-old child had been sitting along the side of the creek prior to the incident, sheriff’s officials said.
The toddler apparently fell into the creek as the adult family member left her alone briefly to chase after the older child, who had run off.
“It was just one of those things: right place, right time,” Henderson said. “We are just happy to have been there to help her.”
After rescuing the drowning girl, officials said, the search and rescue team members re-joined the ongoing search for the missing hiker.
Ertug Ergun, a 33-year-old engineer and Turkish national from Bakersfield, was reporting missing June 20, according to sheriff’s Sgt. Burton Brink. He is an avid hiker told friends he was planning to go hiking before he went missing.
Rescuers launched a search for him in the Angeles National Forest after discovering his car in parking lot at the Stonyvale Picnic Site.
The search continued Saturday.
PHOTO courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department