GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — A 19-month-old boy trapped under water for 20 to 25 minutes after his mother's car ran off a road into an icy canal remained comatose and in critical condition Monday in a Reno hospital.
But Washoe Medical Center spokesman Jack Bulavsky said Stephen Edmonds of Gardnerville is breathing, responding to light and his temperature is up to near normal. It was only 70 degrees when the boy arrived by helicopter early Monday.
"It's really something what we're seeing now," said Bulavsky, adding that the boy had almost no vital signs when he arrived. He also said doctors will wait 24 to 48 hours before estimating the baby's chances for survival.
"We don't know whether there's any brain damage due to the lack of oxygen," Bulavsky said, adding that it will take a longer period to determine that.
The boy was trapped under water when his mother's skidding car flipped, broke through ice on a frozen canal and sank. Authorities said Deborah Edmonds, 21, suffered only minor injuries and was released from an emergency clinic.
Paramedic Don Stangle, who dove into the canal and pulled the boy from the car after smashing out a window, said the boy had no pulse when first brought to shore. After about 15 minutes he "started breathing on his own, but not regular or well."
Douglas County Sheriff's Deputy Greg Curtis, who with Stangle, paramedic Bobby Wartgow and volunteer fireman Steve Morgan also plunged into the five-foot-deep canal, said he detected heart activity as the boy was sent by ambulance to the Carson Valley Emergency Clinic.
"Don got the baby and handed him to me," Curtis said. "He was white. But when I hooked up the heart monitor there was a little activity. I just hope the little kid makes it."
Stangle said that when he got to the accident scene "I just stripped down and went in. Bobby was right behind me. . . . That water had to be 20 degrees. There was ice on top, stiff enough for us to walk out about three feet and then jump in."
Deputies said the car skidded on ice and slid sideways down an embankment on the approach to a small bridge over 20-foot-wide Upper Allerman Canal. The car flipped, smashed through about three inches of ice and sank with its wheels barely showing above water.
Officers said the mother managed to get out of the car through a broken window but could not find her son.