Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Awards to be presented to those who helped rescue girl from septic tank

This past Saturday, just before Noon, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office began to receive several 9-1-1 calls related to a 2-year-old child who had fallen into sewage/septic tank behind the Farmer’s Market located at 49301 West Papago Road, in Maricopa.

Deputies and medical personnel were immediately sent to the call.

The young girl had been chasing her dog in a nearby dirt area and stepped on top of a 21-inch plastic cover which covered the opening of the tank. The cover had three cracks ranging in size from 4 to 10 inches. When the girl stepped on the cover, it flipped open and she fell into the tank and went completely under the sewage inside.

The child’s mother began to scream for help. Several people in the area ran over to help. 27 year-old Henry Ricketts (Top photo below, on right), of Maricopa, and 29 year-old Audencio Rios (Bottom photo below, on left), of Stanfield, immediately jumped into the tank to try and locate the girl. The bottom of the tank was 75 inches from the top and the tank contained 50 inches of raw sewage. The men swam around in the tank until one of them could feel her hair. She was then pulled up and handed off to 28 year-old Chelsea Cunningham, of Alberta, Canada.

Cunningham (Pictured below, center) immediately began to perform Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on the child who was not breathing. After a short time, the girl began to breathe on her own and started to cry. It was estimated she had been under the sewage for approximately four minutes.

Medics from Southwest Ambulance arrived on scene and took over the medical care of the child. She was taken to Cardon Children’s Hospital, in Mesa, by ground ambulance.

The girl will be released from the hospital yesterday and is expected to make a full recovery.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “These three heroes risked their own safety to intervene and save the life of a complete stranger who happened to be a young child. Had it not been for these three heroes the young child would have certainly died. It will be my honor to present them with life-saving awards on behalf of the family, our office and the citizens of Pinal County.”

The three Good Samaritans will be presented with "Life-Saving Awards", by Babeu, at a ceremony today at 2:00 pm in front of the law enforcement memorial at PCSO headquarters, 971 Jason Lopez Circle, in Florence.  The child whose life was saved, as well as her mother and grandparents will attend the ceremony to recognize and appreciate their help.  The public is welcome to attend.

(Photos: Howard Waggner/Maricopa Community News)

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