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Toddler expected to recover after falling into Delhi canal

SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG
A Merced County Sheriff's Deputy assisted the father of his one-year-old toddler who had nearly drowned in a Delhi Canal in the 9000 block of Merced Avenue on Monday Oct. 11, 2010 evening.
SUN-STAR PHOTO BY MARCI STENBERG A Merced County Sheriff's Deputy assisted the father of his one-year-old toddler who had nearly drowned in a Delhi Canal in the 9000 block of Merced Avenue on Monday Oct. 11, 2010 evening. Merced Sun-Star

A 1-year-old girl is alive and well after nearly drowning in a Delhi canal Monday evening.

The incident was reported after 5 p.m. at a canal in the 9000 block of Merced Avenue.

The girl's mother was cleaning a car when a neighbor had left a front gate open. The toddler, named Hailey Jimenez, was able to leave the property and walk to a nearby canal, according to Miguel Jimenez, her uncle.

The mother became concerned after Hailey was nowhere to be found. The father, 22-year-old Juan Jimenez, ran to the canal and found the child floating face-down in the water. He pulled the child out of the water, placed her in his lap and began patting her on the back.

Merced County sheriff's deputies were notified and responded within minutes. When deputies arrived, the child had thrown up water, and the father was able to get her breathing again. Still, the girl was having difficulty breathing.

Deputy Preston Sanchez removed the child's wet clothing, flipped her on her stomach, cradled her in his arms and patted her on the back. The child then spit up a large amount of water and her breathing returned to normal, according to Deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

"We're very pleased our deputy was able to assist the father in saving the life of the 1-year-old," Sheriff Mark Pazin said. "We really avoided a terrible catastrophe."

The toddler was taken to Children's Hospital Central California in Madera and is expected to make a full recovery, Juan Jimenez said. Jimenez said his family is grateful for the deputy's quick response, describing his emotions as sheer joy and ecstasy. "They said 20 seconds more, she wouldn't have been alive," Jimenez said.

Other members of the family also expressed their joy. Eduardo Mata, the girl's 16-year-old cousin, said he hopes someone puts a fence around the canal to prevent a similar situation from happening to anyone else. "We are really lucky. The doctors said it was a really close call," Mata said.

At the Sun-Star's deadline, Jimenez said his daughter was expected to return home later Tuesday.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or vpatton@mercedsun-star.com.

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