Police found father of missing sick girl

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By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Investigators said Monday that they found the father of a sick girl taken from a Valley hospital, but the little girl was not with him.

Investigators believed Emily's dad, Luis Bracamontes, might have been in the minivan waiting outside the hospital to pick up the girl and her mother, Norma Bracamontes.

Luis Bracamontes was stopped Saturday night crossing the border from Mexico into Arizona. He was driving a different vehicle. He denied any knowledge of Emily leaving the hospital and could not - or would not - tell investigators where Emily or her mother might be.

Emily has leukemia and a heart catheter. She could die in a matter of days if she is not brought back to an Arizona hospital after her parents inexplicably took her out of the facility last week, authorities said Monday.

Phoenix police are asking anyone with information about their whereabouts to come forward.

The 11-year-old girl authorities are only calling Emily had been receiving chemotherapy at Phoenix Children's Hospital for about a month, said Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos.

An infection forced doctors to amputate her right arm and insert a catheter in her heart. The device was set to be taken out before her mother removed an IV from the girl, changed her clothes, and walked her out of the hospital Wednesday night.

"It's possible for an infection to set in within 48 hours," Dr. Robert Kuske, a cancer specialist, told 3TV.

"The danger with the catheter left in, is that bacteria can travel from the opening up the catheter to the heart," Kuske said, "And the main concern is if it gets into the bloodstream."

"Prompt medical attention is needed to save this little girl's life."

Authorities had been stymied by health privacy laws that kept them from releasing the parents' names, but late Monday police said U.S. Border Patrol stopped the girl's father, Luis Bracamontes, 46, as he crossed into the Arizona from Mexico over the weekend.

Martos said the man provided no clues to the girl's whereabouts and denied having any involvement in removing her from the hospital. Police are now releasing his name, along with the mother, Norma Bracamontes, 35, in hopes it will help locate the child.

Neither parent is charged with a crime yet, but authorities want the child brought back to the hospital before it's too late, Martos said.

He said the family lives a "nomadic" life without a permanent residence, but they have relatives in Arizona, California and Mexico, none of whom have been able to provide police with information about their whereabouts.

The girl's father is a Mexican citizen with a U.S. resident alien identification card. The child and her mother are U.S. citizens, Martos said.

Phoenix Children's Hospital spokeswoman Jane Walton declined to comment, citing health privacy laws.

Authorities don't know why the child's parents took her from the hospital, but speculate they might have been concerned with paying the bill.

Surveillance footage from Wednesday night shows the mother pushing an IV stand through a hospital hallway. The young girl with her right arm removed above the elbow and wrapped in a bandage is seen walking beside her.

"We just don't know what their intent was," Martos said. "But this could become extremely serious if she contracts an infection ... Our primary concern is she get the proper medical care so we can prevent obviously the worst case scenario here."

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