Toddler home after falling in septic tank

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by Christina O'Haver

Video report by Steve Ryan

Posted on January 13, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 3:11 PM

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PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. -- A 2-year-old girl was released from the hospital Monday after nearly drowning in a septic tank on Sunday, according to the Pinal County Sheriff's Office.

"It's just overwhelming that she's perfect and I get to hold her and be with her more," said the child's mother Emily Howard. "I'm amazed and I love her and I'm never letting her out of my sight again, ever."

It was reported on the 49300 block of West Papago Road, near the city of Maricopa.

Sheriff's office spokesman Tim Gaffney said the tank had a plastic cover but it apparently collapsed when the child stepped on it.

"She was right in front of me when she fell, but I dropped to my knees and tried to grab her," said Howard. "The water was too deep to reach where she was in the bottom, and I started screaming 'she fell, she fell, somebody please get her out.'"

She was pulled from the tank and given CPR.

Jeff Vaughn thought he would be spending the day selling some of his crafts in Maricopa. He had no idea he would end up helping rescue a child from such a terrifying situation.

"All of the sudden someone said a little girl fell down the well," said Vaughn.

Vaughn, who is a grandfather, said he ran toward the child's scream and dove head first into the narrow opening and grabbed the little girl out of the tank.

At the same time, another man held onto Vaughn's ankles and together they pulled the child out of the septic tank that was filled with raw sewage.

The child wasn't breathing, according to Vaughn. It was then that a woman ran over and began giving the child CPR.

"After doing CPR for awhile, she started crying and that was the best thing to hear," said Vaughn.

Paramedics transported her to Cardon Children's Medical Center in Mesa.

Her condition is unknown, but Gaffney said she was crying on the way to the hospital.

There is a concern about infection because of the exposure to raw sewage.

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