Acts of Kindness
Man sees tiny foot floating up in lake and acts quickly to save toddler’s life
Angelo was at the lake with his family when he felt an object hit his legs in the water. Moments later, he saw a very tiny foot floating to the surface.
Kate Miano
04.28.22

You never know when something wrong is going to happen, and you also never know who is going to prove themselves to be a hero. When a little girl was drowning in a Colorado lake, it was a surprise to the man who rescued her that he was able to do so much to save her life.

He was truly in the right place at the right time.

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

On a Sunday afternoon, Angelo Mondragon was in the water when he felt something beside him. He quickly realized that it was a body submerged in the water, so he acted fast and pulled it out. It turned out to be the body of three-year old Sitlali Hernandez.

According to USA TODAY, he explained:

“It felt like something you normally wouldn’t feel in the water. I did sort of a back kick to bring up whatever it was, and then I saw the bottom of a baby’s foot float up.”

flickr - Mia and Steve Mestdagh
Source:
flickr - Mia and Steve Mestdagh

When he got her body out of the water he noticed that she was already not breathing. He immediately screamed for help, and while waiting for emergency services to arrive, himself and two off-duty nurses performed CPR on the little girl who had turned blue.

Fortunately, Mondragon was able to rescue the girl from the water at just the right time. She was sent to a hospital to be treated for injuries.

He reflected on his experience and what it means that the timing worked out for him to be at the lake when he was. He told USA Today that the parental instincts kicked right in:

“If I was not in that right spot at the right time, it could have been a search and rescue mission. As I told the little girl’s mom, when I saw the baby’s toes that became my baby.”

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

This experience prompted Mondragon to focus on promoting personal floatation devices among swimmers.

Pexels - Stephen Andrews
Source:
Pexels - Stephen Andrews

Feeling truly shocked to his core, Mondragon began to feel like he had to do something to prevent this incident from happening again. He noticed that the little girl had not been wearing a life vest, and that this incident likely would not have happened if she had been. He had begun to work with local organizations to start educating the local community about the importance of life vests and also helping to supply them to those who cannot afford them.

It was a terrifying ordeal, but afterwards Mondragon was able to collect himself and describe the mentality he had to help rescue her.

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

Mondragon told CBS Denver:

“I was yelling, screaming, terrified, ya know, so I sounded very terrified. But I felt an amazing calm.”

And, after the dramatic rescue, Mondragon was able to meet the little girl and see her healthy and well again.

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

The day after her rescue, he was able to go to the hospital she was being treated at and meet her. Given that they had just shared an intense experience together, the moment was huge for Mondragon and said that Sitlali felt like a member of his family now. The two met and spoke and shared a big hug to remedy from the scary situation they had just encountered.

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

Sitlali is now fully recovered from the toll that the near-drowning took on her body, and she and Mondragon are both grateful he was there to help.

YouTube - CBS Denver
Source:
YouTube - CBS Denver

It’s fortunate that someone like Angelo Mondragon was also at the lake. He credits the fact that he is a father and has strong parental instincts with what kept him so calm and clear headed throughout the rescue experience. No matter what it was that day that had him there at the right moment, this event is surely one that has changed both him and the little girl for life.

Learn more about this unforgettable story in the video below!

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By Kate Miano
hi@sbly.com
Kate Miano is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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