Pilots attempted to save drowning toddler

February 27, 2009 5:14:10 AM PST
We're hearing about the unusual lengths Houston police officers went to while trying to save a young child who fell into Buffalo Bayou. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Sadly, the two-year-old boy died after wandering unattended near his home Thursday afternoon. Some witnesses in the neighborhood said they saw the child just minutes before he was reported missing. Despite the efforts of so many, it was too late to save him.

Houston police said a call came in around 3:40pm Thursday afternoon when relatives of the child could not find him.

"The resources of the police department were all called in -- helicopters, dogs, multiple patrol units. They began searching for the child," said Sergeant Stuart Red of the Houston Police Department.

Neighbors in the area did not know what was going on.

"We saw the policemen went down and they grabbed a little baby," said Kareen Santos.

HPD helicopter pilot Kyle Englehardt spotted the two-year-old in White Oak Bayou. In a highly unusual move, he landed the helicopter on the banks of the bayou.

"It was a little tight. In the moment, you're not thinking about that being a tight spot. We were focused on the child in the water," said Englehardt.

Officer Corey Frank jumped out of the helicopter and into the bayou to get to the boy. He said at times the water was so deep, he couldn't walk and had to swim.

"Both my partner and I have young children and you just can't help but think, what if it was mine? What would you do? Would you hesitate? Would you stop on the bank and look? No, you just gotta get him out," said Frank.

Investigators say the two-year-old was staying with his grandmother and aunts at the time.

"The child walked away from the front of the house accidentally walked into a park. They lost eyesight. The people at the house didn't know the child was gone," said HPD's Christopher Sturdivant.

Despite the efforts and prayers of many, the child died at St. Joseph's Hospital Thursday afternoon.

"I really thought we could get some life back into him," said Frank.

Investigators said they are treating this as an accident and no charges have been filed.

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