Newly released prisoner dives into septic tank to save girl

(Photo credit: KPHO/CNN)

(Photo credit: KPHO/CNN)

ARIZONA (KPHO) — A 2-year-old girl is recovering after falling through a damaged septic tank lid and nearly drowning.

One man dove in after her while another got her breathing again.

The girl was walking with her mother Saturday morning on West Papago Road, near the city of Maricopa, when she stepped on the lid, said Pinal County Sheriff’s spokesman Tim Gaffney.

Gaffney said the tank’s plastic cover had apparently collapsed under the girl’s footing.

Some good Samaritans attending a swap meet nearby heard the mom’s screams.

Henry Ricketts was one of them. Ricketts, newly released from prison, went in head first to try to save the child.

“I inhaled some of the nasty water, so I had to come back up,” Ricketts told CBS 5 News.

Eyes closed, Ricketts couldn’t find the baby on the first try. Plenty of time had passed with no sign of the child.

Eyewitness Barbara Fowler described the scene.

“They pulled him back up, but they couldn’t find her,” Fowler said. “Immediately after that, another gentleman went in head-first, and they had a guy on either side holding each of his feet and dropped him down in there and he dug around and came up with that baby, by its arm.”

Fowler said the child was lifeless when they brought her up. Immediately, a young woman, later identified as a nurse, stepped in and started CPR and mouth-to-mouth and revived the girl.

“We saw that baby breathe again,” Fowler said.

Gaffney said the child was taken to Cardon Children’s Hospital where she is recovering.

Three firefighters continued to administer first aid on the ride to the hospital. Two relatives, one identifying himself as the girl’s grandfather, remained at the scene and held each other as they spoke to police and fire officials before making the trek to the hospital themselves.

Rescuers were not treated for any injuries, although Ricketts had some large, superficial scratches on his back that were probably the result of his contact with a pipe in the tank, first responders said.

Fowler says what she witnessed showed her the true human spirit.

“I’m proud to be in their presence, to know people come together like that,” she said. “They were astounding.”

12 comments

  • Ryan

    That poor dude will probably end up with hepatitus from those scratches. Hopefully not, but as they say…”no good deed goes unpunished”. Glad they were able to save the baby. Good job fellas!

      • Intellectual

        It does matter. If he had kicked a dog 5 years ago everyone here would be calling for him to be burned at the stake or locked up and buried under the jail. All too often everyone here is all “THROW AWAY THE KEY”. Guess this little girl is lucky they didn’t in this case.

  • Amanda

    what does him being in prison have to do with this story? He saved that little girl end of story there is no need to mention he was in prison.

  • Alice Pyle

    WHY DOES EVERY ONE ALL WAYS HAVE SOMETHING BAD TO SAY SO WHAT HE WAS IN PRISON THAT DON.T MEAN HE DON.T HAVE A HEART .WHY CAN,T POPLE JUST THANK THE GOOD LORD THAT HE WAS THERE IN THAT TIME OF NEED HE DID NOT HAVE TO DO ANY THING.I THANK HIM FOR SHOWING HE CARE AND FOR SAFEING THE CHILD LIFE .COME OWN FOLK GET A LIFE WOULD YOU OF DONE IT ASK YOUR SELF THAT I WOULD OF.THANK GOD THE CHILD SAFE THANK YOU FOR CARING ENOUGH FOR THE CHILD AND NOT WORRIED ABOUT YOUR LIFE .

  • Cat

    You know there are some good people in prison that had a run in with bad circumstances. I was with a friend in court one day for a traffic violation when they brought a girl up who knifed another girl who pushed her way into her home when her baby was there and threatened her with a knife. She got jail time because she stabbed the other girl right outside her door as she retreated when she grabbed a kitchen knife of her own. The other woman doubled back at her and saw she had a knife now and started to leave but because she was outside and had turned to leave when the girl stabbed her. She got 12 years!!!

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