Woman runs across 4 lanes of traffic, jumps in canal to rescue drowning Ore. toddler
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ/CNN) - A woman who rescued a 2-year-old boy after she saw him run across an Oregon highway and fall into a canal says a higher power put her in the right place at the right time.
Bailey Vardanega was driving Tuesday evening along Highway 97 in Redmond, Oregon, when she saw the father of a 2-year-old boy flagging down drivers. She then saw the toddler run across the highway and fall into an irrigation canal.
“I’m grateful that I reacted,” Vardanega said. “I’m grateful I got to listen to God and have him tell me what to do and have the opportunity to save someone.”
Vardanega left her car and crossed four lanes of traffic to follow after the boy. She ended up diving into the canal herself to rescue him.
“My legs were faster than I’ve ever run, and I swam more aggressive than I ever swam,” Vardanega said. “God’s in control. He had me in the right place at the right time, and I allowed him to use my body as he needed.”
She brought the 2-year-old to shore. He coughed up some water but was breathing.
Vardanega, who has two kids of her own, says she’s always in mom mode, and she’s grateful she listened to God and reacted the way she did.
“You don’t think twice on those things. It’s not what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to help one another, especially the innocent that don’t know. That’s what we’re supposed to do,” she said.
Police thanked Vardanega and hailed her as a hero. They say the toddler was being babysat at a nearby home by his grandmother, 51-year-old Jodie Ewing, who didn’t realize he had gone missing.
The boy’s father spotted him running across the highway, as he was walking home from the grocery store.
Ewing was cited for second-degree child neglect.
The case is under review by the state Department of Human Services and the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office. It is illegal in Oregon to leave a child under age 10 unattended for any period of time that may endanger the child’s health or welfare.
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