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Baby rescued from overturned canoe in Hernando County

Posted at 11:55 AM, Jan 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-06 23:21:56-05

HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. — A 4-month-old baby is receiving treatment at a pediatric facility after it was rescued from an overturned canoe in Hernando County on Friday.

Marine deputies were stopped around 2:30 p.m. on the Weeki Wachee River when they saw a canoe overturn and heard a woman scream, "My baby!," the sheriff's office says.

The deputies, Marine Deputy Steve Snell and Patrol Deputy Zachary Burkhart, responded to the canoe and found the baby upside down in the water in a car seat.

"Deputy Burkhart jumped on the back of my jet ski. We shot across the river and moved the canoe which was overturned...moved it out of the way and saw an upside down or capsized child safety seat," said Deputy Snell.

The sheriff's office says Deputy Burkhart immediately pulled the car seat out of the water and saw that the baby wasn't breathing. The baby was not wearing a life jacket, deputies say.

"The car seat was pretty heavy. The mom was frantic. She was trying to look for the baby," said Deputy Burkhart.

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The deputies took the baby to the shoreline to administer first aid. When they reached land, deputies say the baby opened its eyes and started to cry.

"When I saw the baby's eyes open and start to cry, it was a relief," said Deputy Burkhart.

The baby was taken by fire rescue to a local hospital. The sheriff's office says the baby was later transferred to a pediatric facility for a higher level of monitoring.

The sheriff's office said the baby is expected to be okay.

According to the sheriff's office, the parents rented a canoe and were given a life jacket for the baby. Deputies say it's unclear when or why the parents took it off of the baby.

"Florida has lakes, rivers, and the ocean and everything. We all like to interact with the environment, but it's one that comes with a lot of risk," said Cyle Sage who swims in the Weeki Wachee River.

The father was cited for personal flotation device not worn by a child under the age of six, authorities say.

The water in the area where the baby was found is seven feet deep and authorities say there is a very strong current.