UPDATE: The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept. issued the following press release regarding the near drowning on Friday:
A toddler was revived by rescuers and airlifted to the hospital Friday after being discovered face down in a forest river. Rescuers were in the area to search for an unrelated missing man.
On June 29, 2012, multiple search teams with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, including search dogs and Sheriff’s searchers on horseback were in the Stonyvale Picnic area for the ongoing search for Ertug Ergun. Ergun is an engineer from the country of Turkey who had been reported missing in Bakersfield, California last week. LASD deputies have been searching the picnic area and Angeles National Forest since finding his car in the area last week.
Aydin Topcu, Consul General of Turkey, had just met with rescuers Friday at 5:00PM at the Stonyvale Picnic Parking area of Big Tujunga Canyon to thank them for their ongoing search efforts. The search and rescue team members then set out again for the next stage of the search.
Within five minutes of leaving the picnic area command post, LASD Montrose Search and Rescue Reserve Commander Janet Henderson (an emergency room nurse) and Reserve Chief Michael Leum were walking in a river, searching for the missing man, when they noticed a family playing in the water about 50 yards upriver.
Henderson was stunned to see that a toddler was laying face-down in the water near the family, and quickly yelled, “somebody better get that baby!”
Reserve Deputies Henderson and Leum started running upstream as they saw the mother grab the lifeless 18-month old girl from the water.
As soon as the rescuers reached them, the mother handed Leum the baby girl. She was limp, her skin had turned blue, and she was not breathing.
Leum held the baby face-down on his forearm, just as he had been trained to do in Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) classes. He cautiously delivered back-blows appropriate for a toddler, and she immediately coughed up a large amount of water. She began breathing, although with some difficulty.
Henderson, being an emergency room nurse, took over and evaluated the baby’s condition based on her valuable training and experience. The mother, now relieved that her baby was breathing, thought that the child would now be fine. However, Henderson insisted that the baby be airlifted immediately airlifted due to the high likelihood of fluid remaining in the baby’s lungs and other medical concerns, because of the intake of so much water.
Leum radioed the Sheriff’s command post and notified them of the rescue and need for an immediate airlift.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Copter 18 landed and firefighters and sheriff’s deputies transported the child and mother to an area hospital for emergency medical treatment. By early Saturday morning, the baby had been released from the hospital and is reportedly healthy.
Due to the quick actions of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team members the child survived.
Having rescued the child, Montrose Search and Rescue Team Commander Henderson and Chief Leum then rejoined the other rescuers and redeployed on their mission in search of the missing Turkish man from Bakersfield. That search continues.
In discussion with the mother in the aftermath of this near-tragedy, deputies learned that the mother of the toddler, along with a three year old child, were being watched by another adult family member while they were all sitting by the side of the creek.
The three year old child became distracted and ran away from the adult family member who was watching both children. That family member ran after the three year old and left the toddler sitting creekside for just a moment. That is when the toddler wandered into the creek.
When the family member soon returned with the three year old, the mother was with the members of the Montrose Search and Rescue Team who had the lifeless toddler with them and were performing life saving measures which revived the toddler.
This search and rescue operation is being coordinated by the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Departtment. Assisting in Friday’s search included members of the Montrose Search & Rescue Team (Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station), Sierra Madre Search & Rescue Team (Temple Sheriff’s Station), Mounted Search & Rescue (horses) and K-9 (dogs) Search and Rescuers (Sheriff’s Reserve Forces Bureau Headquarters), and U.S. Department of Forestry personnel.
By Mary O’KEEFE
FRIDAY After meeting with Consul General of Turkey Aydın Topcu, who came to Stonyvale Picnic Area to thank rescuers for efforts in finding missing hiker Ertug Ergun, Montrose Search & Rescue Team members Mike Leum, Janet Henderson and Search Dog handler Michael Kaae responded to a possible drowning in the area
“Baby, drowning … was unconscious when we arrived,” Leum said. “Walking her out.”
A little girl, about a year and a half old, had apparently been in the creek face down when her mother found her. The mother had just lifted the child out of the water when Leum, Henderson and Kaae came walking up the creek.
Henderson is an emergency room nurse; Leum has EMT (emergency medical technician) training. After Leum delivered back-blows the baby coughed up water and began breathing. Henderson then took over medical care. The child regained consciousness and in her mother’s arms the team walked them to a waiting emergency vehicle.
Leum and Henderson took the child to a nearby helipad where the child was transported to a hospital via L.A. County Fire Department helicopter.
The consul general had come to the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station earlier in the afternoon to thank Capt. David Silversparre for the efforts of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. search and rescue teams in the search of Ergun before heading to Stonyvale Picnic Area to personally thank searchers.
Topcu questioned what would have happened if the MSR members were not there searching for Ergun.
“The search for him could have saved [the child],” he said. He added he would let Ergun’s family know of the rescue.
Ergun, 33, an engineer from Turkey who now lives in Bakersfield, was reported missing on June 20 to the Bakersfield Police.
Ergun’s abandoned vehicle was found in the parking lot of the Stonyvale Picnic Area. Evidence in the vehicle led law enforcement to believe he was hiking in the surrounding canyons. Montrose Search and Rescue Team members began searching for him in the late afternoon of June 22. There were negative results.
The ongoing search now includes members of nearby search and rescue teams, the LASD’s Mounted Search and Rescue, the LASD’s Search Dogs and air support by LASD Air 5.
“I am grateful for all that they have done,” Topcu said.
Topcu did not know Ergun personally but has been in touch with his family.
“They are concerned,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Air 5 took two members of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, Barbara Fortini and Taison Tran, to a remote area of the canyon where it is thought Ergun may have hiked. They rappelled into the canyon and hiked 8.7 miles to the Stonyvale Picnic Area.
“The trail really needs repair after the fire,” said Fortini. “The brush is really thick.”
That search also yielded negative results.
There are several trials he could have taken, Leum said.
Search teams are covering every angle a hiker may have taken. This morning a cyclist stopped search and rescue teams to report hearing a yell coming from an area above Stonyvale.
Air 5 searched that area with negative results.
After responding to the child, Leum and Henderson came back to the Stonyvale, and began their search for Ergun again.
They will continue the search until dark.