Right place at the right time for a Cashmere pastor, his brother and the toddler they saved from an irrigation canal in West Wenatchee.

Steve Haney, pastor of Christ Center Church, and his brother, Jim, were walking along the canal near Western Avenue and Rocklund Drive Sunday afternoon.

"We were just talking, and I noticed that Jim stopped, and he was looking in the canal. I stopped and kind of backed up and started looking at the canal as well. And we see this little girl floating down the canal." Steve Haney said.

Along that stretch of canal, the water depth is about three feet. Somehow the 4-year-old girl ended up floating on her back.

"She was floating with her arms out and her legs spread, just like an adult would do if they were floating down the canal in the summertime, and her head was up above water where she could breathe." Jim Haney said.

Stretch of water where child was spotted floating on her back
Stretch of water where child was spotted floating on her back
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Steve sprung to action and jumped into the water while his brother called 9-1-1. Haney pulled the girl from the water and made sure she was still able to breathe. She showed signs of vomiting by ingesting too much water into her lungs.

"That told me that she had aspirated some water, so I immediately grabbed her in my arms and held her up so she could expel water that was in her lungs. And once I held her up, and I think I patted her back or something, just to she was conscious and alert, but she was quiet," Jim Haney said. "And then all of a sudden, once she got the water up, she started kind of crying, which I knew was a good sign. She's moving air."

Two joggers on the canal road rushed to help. With the girl cradled in his arms, Steve tried to hand her over.

"But she was not going to let go of my neck. So, she just continued to hang on. And one of the joggers said there's a ramp on down. So, at that point, I just carried her vertically so she could keep breathing until we got to the ramp, and then climbed out of the ramp." Steve Haney said.

Ramp where Steve Haney carried the child to safety.
Ramp where Steve Haney carried the child to safety.
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The Wenatchee Police Department responded to 9-1-1 calls by Steve's brother and another man who spotted the girl farther up the canal. Paramedics also arrived and treated the child. She's doing a lot better.

However, things could have turned for the worse if it wasn't for Steve's quick actions. She would have undoubtedly drifted into a metal grate 50 to 75 yards away.

"I would say the distance in the bars is probably eight inches, eight to 10 inches. So, it's not keeping out small debris. I think it's meant to keep out larger debris, but her head could have easily fit in between the bars." Steve Haney said.

Metal grate sits approximately 50 yards from where child was rescued.
Metal grate sits approximately 50 yards from where child was rescued.
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Investigators spoke with the parents. They say the toddler, who's autistic, likes to throw rocks into the water under adult supervision. However, no one saw her exit the residence.

"And I'm not sure of the situation whether a gate was left open or if there was a possibility of getting through a fenced yard. But clearly, the young child was able to navigate past a fence or out of sight of the parents." Chief Crown said.

It's believed she remained afloat on her back, head above water, for a 1/4 mile. While paramedics and police were enroute, she went under the canal bridge at Western Avenue before the Haney brothers spotted and saved her.

"The bridge is clearly one of those culvert type structures where there's concrete support to support the road. And yeah, that's amazing. I mean, that right there would be scary for an adult, let alone a young child," Chief Crown said. "The dangers to the canal are actually some of the trash collectors that are set up in different locations along the canal, where a floating log debris is collected."

Current carried the child under this bridge at Western Avenue.
Current carried the child under this bridge at Western Avenue.
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Wenatchee Police applaud the heroic efforts of the Haney brothers, the joggers and those who called 911. It's the type of event they consider for their citizen and live saving award programs.

"And it was just an amazing event where people were aware of this situation and you know, there's a lot of traffic along that canal bank, and people really got on the phone and alerted police as well as fire to the situation and jumped right in themselves literally and saved this young kid's life." Chief Crown said.

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