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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Encino

Toddler Back Home After Pool Rescue

October 14, 2000|STEPHANIE STASSEL

To the relief of his parents and the next-door neighbor who rescued him, a 15-month-old boy is healthy and back home again after nearly drowning in a backyard pool.

Erik Soto, who was rushed to Childrens Hospital in critical condition, came home just two days after the accident, his father, Gilbert Soto, said.

"A nurse said it was very rare to get out of critical condition and walk out [so quickly]" Soto said. "If you were to look at him, you wouldn't know anything happened."

On Monday, Erik's mother found him face down in the pool's deep end. Unable to swim, Arely Soto screamed for help and was quickly aided by next-door neighbors Thom and Sara Dobbs.

Thom Dobbs immediately jumped into the pool and scooped up the child, who wasn't breathing. Dobbs started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and soon afterward, Erik vomited. With a few more puffs of air from Dobbs, Erik began breathing again. The Fire Department arrived a minute later.

"I can't even begin to describe the shock factor. It's hard to remember everything I did, but I knew I was doing it right," said Dobbs, 36, a former American Red Cross water safety instructor who has taken cardiopulmonary resuscitation lessons annually for 13 years.

Erik was airlifted to Childrens Hospital where, by Tuesday night, he was jumping up and down in the hospital crib and pulling monitors off his chest, his parents said.

The day after Erik came home, the Soto family visited Thom and Sara Dobbs, bringing cookies and a card as a way of saying thanks.

"I don't know how to thank him. He saved my baby's life. What can you possibly say?" said Gilbert Soto. "Anything he ever needs, we'll be there."

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