For a few terrifying moments Saturday afternoon, John Cardenas thought he had lost his “miracle baby.”
Cardenas went to the Colorado River near Avenue 3E to enjoy some time with family and friends, but at approximately 4:30 p.m., tragedy nearly struck.
“My son, Aiden, and my 13-year-old daughter were playing near the river. I turned for a second to grab (something) from my truck, and when I turned around, my daughter didn’t have him anymore.
“I ran around the truck, because he likes to play in the sand, and he wasn’t there. So I started yelling to everybody else.”
After hearing Cardenas’ shouts, family friend Lance Cpl. Cody Nichols, a local Marine, quickly located the unconscious 14-month-old in the water and pulled him out, Cardenas said.
When Aiden was laid on the riverbank, Cardenas’ cousin, T.J. Wright, began to administer CPR.
“By the time I got to him, T.J. was on his third chest compression and water started coming out,” Cardenas said. “So he kept going and more and more water was coming out and then (Aiden) gasped for air and started to breathe.”
Cardenas called 911, but after some confusion communicating where they were on the river, Cardenas told the dispatcher he would meet the emergency responders at Sam’s Club.
“On the ride over there, he was still just taking small breaths of air because, as the doctor told me later, his stomach was so full of water, it was pressing against his lungs and he couldn’t take a deep breath.”
Although the ride to Sam’s Club took only about five minutes, Cardenas said it felt like an eternity.
Paramedics then transported Aiden to Yuma Regional Medical Center, where doctors kept him overnight for observation.
“The doctors say Aiden was a miracle because there was no fluid in his lungs whatsoever when they did the chest X-ray. And after about three hours at the hospital, he was back to his normal self, pulling on things and getting into everything,” the father said.
But Cardenas had already considered Aiden to be his “miracle baby.”
“Doctors told me that I had a one in a million chance of having another child. And then Aiden was born. It was one of the happiest days of my life.”
Doctors told Cardenas to monitor his son over the next week since bacteria from the river water could create pneumonia or other respiratory problems. But Aiden is showing no effects from the incident, thanks to the quick response of his cousin and friend.
“I would just like to thank Cody and T.J. I know (they) don’t like the attention, but they deserve every bit of it. If I didn’t have (them) there … I might not have my son today. I am really grateful for what they did.”