Mother, baby rescued from raging California storm water
With BC-CA--California Storm, BC-CA--California Storm-La Conchita
AP Photos LA106 and CAONT102
SAN DIMAS, Calif. (AP) - The story of a mother and her infant
son plucked from raging flood waters after their inflatable rescue
raft capsized took a bizarre twist Tuesday, with a firefighter
blaming the woman for the accident.
Television footage showed Erica Henderson struggling to keep her
8-week-old son's tiny head above water as the two were swept down
the San Dimas Creek after the raft, piloted by a firefighter,
flipped in the roiling water.
Henderson, with her son William strapped to her chest in a baby
carrier, washed up on a sand bar within minutes and was pulled from
the creek by members of Los Angeles County's swift-water rescue
Neither was seriously injured. They recovered Tuesday at Pomona
Valley Community Hospital.
Henderson said on "Good Morning America" early Tuesday that at
one point she feared her son was dead and tried to resuscitate him
as they were dragged downstream.
"The last time we hit the embankment, the force was so bad I
knew he swallowed water," Henderson told CBS.
"I thought I was going to lose him at that point and I felt
like if I pushed on his chest, it would help. And it did. I pumped
his chest with my hand and he spit up some water."
But Henderson canceled a news conference after a member of the
swift-water rescue team criticized her and her husband for
hampering the rescue. The husband's name wasn't immediately
Larry Collins, coordinator of the swift-water rescue team, told
KNBC-TV that the baby's father was "verbally and physically
violent" and physically assaulted two firefighters. The couple,
who live in a cabin in San Dimas Canyon, had called 911 and were
waiting on the river bank when firefighters arrived.
"We had uncooperative parents that we've had to deal with
before," Collins told the station. "The children needed to be
taken out of there."
Collins said Henderson eventually agreed to leave the cabin, but
only if she could hold her baby herself. But he said Henderson
caused the raft to flip because she was "was uncooperative to
start with ... and she wasn't following instructions."
Henderson's husband - who was supposed to take a second raft -
decided to remain at the cabin with the couple's 2-year-old
daughter after seeing what had happened to his wife, according to
television reports.
Capt. Mark Savage, spokesman for the Fire Department, said that
Collins should not have made the comments about Henderson and her
"Yes, they might have been (uncooperative) but we don't need to
be going public with that aspect," Savage said. "We're not going
down that road any further."
Collins did not immediately return messages from The Associated
Press on Tuesday.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)