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Deputies rescue baby trapped under water when canoe flips in Weeki Wachee

Associated Press
Walton Sun

WEEKI WACHEE — Two Florida sheriff's deputies were taking a lunch break after patrolling a stretch of the Weeki Wachee River on Friday when they saw a canoe flip and heard a woman screaming for someone to help her baby.

Hernando County Sheriff's deputies Steve Snell and Zachary Burkhart righted the canoe and found the infant strapped in a car seat without a life jacket. The four-month old baby had been trapped under water and didn't appear to be breathing.

Snell, a marine deputy who had been training Burkhart for a marine deputy position that afternoon, took the baby to the shoreline and started first aid, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The baby opened her eyes and started crying.

Hernando County Fire Rescue took the child for treatment at a local hospital, and she was later transferred to a pediatric facility in stable condition.

Investigators determined that the person who rented the canoe to the family had provided a life jacket for the baby but it had been removed at some point during the trip.

Deputies gave the child's father a citation for having a child under the age of 6 not wearing a flotation device.

“It is believed that due to the state of panic both parents were in and the strong current in the river at the time of the incident, Deputies Snell and Burkhart prevented a tragedy with their quick and decisive actions during this incident,” sheriff’s officials said in a news release.