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Crescenta Valley On Mend After Beach Accident

October 03, 2000|PAIGE A. LEECH

David Mulcahey of Crescenta Valley High never imagined himself in such a dire situation.

In an instant, a September day at the beach with a friend turned from light-hearted to life-threatening.

Moments after Mulcahey watched Carlos Pelayo dive into the still ocean last month at a Long Beach marina, Mulcahey knew something was wrong.

"I saw him dive in, then I was talking [to another friend]," Mulcahey said. "Then I noticed [Pelayo] struggling in the water and then he stopped completely. I ran over, grabbed him and flipped him over."

Pelayo, a former Times' all-region water polo player for Crescenta Valley, was unconscious. No pulse, no breathing, no color in his face.

"I pulled him out of the water and started giving him CPR," said Mulcahey, a junior on the Falcons' water polo team.

Although Mulcahey never had a CPR class, the 16-year-old instinctively knew what to do.

"I've been told the basics . . . and I've watched a lot of [The Learning Channel]," Mulcahey said. "I guess I learned enough."

Because of the rescue efforts of Mulcahey and David Herrera, 37, a close friend of the Pelayo family who arrived on the scene minutes later, Pelayo survived.

Pelayo, 18, the 1999 Pacific League most valuable player with 136 goals, fractured vertebrae when his head hit the ocean floor. He had spinal surgery three days after the accident on Sept. 20.

Although Pelayo's prognosis was grim in the beginning, he has made extraordinary progress in his rehabilitation, according to Falcon Coach Jan Sakonju.

Initially, doctors told Pelayo's mother he should be able to sit up in about three months. But Pelayo is already walking.

"He looks great," said Sakonju, after visiting Pelayo in the hospital on Monday.

"It was the first time I've been able to see him and I didn't know what to expect."

Pelayo, the Falcons' first-year junior varsity coach, is wearing a crown device called a halo to keep his neck and spinal cord in line.

He has occupational and physical therapy four times a day and will probably leave the hospital at the end of October.

Meanwhile, Mulcahey is breathing a little easier these days.

"Now that I know he's better, I can go play and not worry about him," Mulcahey said.


Crespi soon hopes to pick up where it left off a week ago.

The Celts (12-4), enjoying a terrific turnaround this season, lost leading scorer Hernan Golbert to an injured right eye against Crescenta Valley during the championship game of the Zack Hahn tournament last week.

The wound required nine stitches and Golbert was forced to miss three games.

Crespi, 13-10 last season, lost to the Falcons, 5-4, but Golbert was named most valuable player of the tournament.

With Golbert out, Crespi lost to Thousand Oaks last week.

"I figured our team would be able to handle it," Coach Jonathan Schild said of Golbert's absence. "I think we just sat back on our laurels."

Crespi hopes to have Golbert back Wednesday for its Mission League opener against Loyola.


Ventura, with only two starters back from last year's Southern Section Division IV semifinalist team, is showing no signs of inexperience.

The Cougars recently won the Buena tournament, beating Agoura, 8-6, in the championship game.

David Miller, among the region's best goalies, made 13 saves in the final.


The Top 5

Rankings of water polo teams from the region


Rk School (League) Rec. 1 Harvard-Westlake (Mission) 8-0 2 Royal (Marmonte) 13-2 3 Ventura (Channel) 7-0 4 Crescenta Valley (Pacific) 10-2 5 Crespi (Mission) 13-4


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