“If I was not in that right spot at the right time, it could have been a search and rescue mission,” said Angelo Mondragon, a 32-year-old plumber from Fort Collins, Colorado. In an interview back in July 2015, he told the Coloradoan that he was out swimming with family on a Sunday afternoon when he came across a frightening situation.
As Mondragon was “walking around in the waist-deep water” at the Windsor Lake Swim Beach, he felt something brush against his leg. “It felt like something you normally wouldn’t feel in the water,” he said.
The man told KUSA-TV that he used his leg to kick up the object, and that’s when he noticed a baby’s foot float up to the surface. “I just dove in and my parent instincts took over. I grabbed her out of the water and screamed ‘Whose baby is this?’”
The little girl, 4-year-old Sitlali Hernandez, was carried back to shore as Mondragon yelled for help. He quickly realized that the toddler was motionless and turning blue.
Two off-duty paramedics performed CPR on Sitlali until help arrived on scene. Once emergency personnel had her in their care, she was rushed to a nearby hospital and then later transferred to the Children’s Hospital in Aurora.
On that Monday, Mondragon went to the hospital to see Sitlali. The child was doing a lot better and doctors said she was going to be just fine.
Mondragon had a chance to meet and talk with Sitlali and her mother. When asked what made him leap into action, Mondragon said it was because of the connection he has with his own family.
“When I saw that little girl’s toes, that became my baby,” he said. “She was my family and I did everything that I could, that I would do for my family.”
Sitlali’s mom, Emma, was extremely grateful for Mondragon’s quick response to rescue the drowning child. “You saved her. You saved her. You saved my baby,” she told him in an emotional reunion outside of the medical center.
While sitting with the youngster in the hospital room, Mondragon felt that their bond would continue to grow even stronger with time. He said, “I just want her to know that we’re here for her and we’re going to see her all the way through her healing process and we’re going to watch her grow up.”
— CBSDenver (@CBSDenver) July 27, 2015
Although things turned out on a positive note for everyone involved, the incident may have never happened if the child had on a life vest, according to Mondragon. He decided to start an initiative with local businesses to provide life vests for non-swimmers who can’t afford to buy one.
Faith in humanity is restored each day by the good deeds we do for others. This rescue story will forever be a reminder that decent people still do exist in the world and are Earth’s angels in disguise. We all have the power to save lives and give someone a second chance at life, just in the same way Mondragon did for little Sitlali.
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