The Miracle Baby of Laguna Beach

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The Miracle Baby of Laguna Beach

By Amy Wilson

The Orange County Register

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. – Sometime after midnight, a baby asleep on Donald Duck sheets was swept out of her house, out of her crib and into the night. That she was found at all is a miracle.

That she was alive is whatever is better than a miracle.

Nine-month-old Tiffany Sarabia rode the mudslide yesterday in Laguna Beach that smashed three homes and killed two men. (one was a British fellow who barely escaped the mud that destroyed his residence and he went over to a friend’s house only to be killed when the slide destroyed that house as well)

The man who found her was likewise swept away. Gary Segraves, 51, had come to Laguna Canyon Road to help his daughter, Jenifer, who had been stranded in an earlier slide. He was staying the night when the second slide hit, slamming him into the side of an animal shelter. When Segraves stopped rolling, he realized there was a baby with him on a pile of rocks and twigs and living-room furniture.

Segraves had lost his glasses, and at first he thought she was a muddy doll.

“I pinched its fingers to see if it was alive,” he said.

Shaken, tired and hurt, Segraves handed the mud-swaddled baby to a stranger named Todd Tingley. The baby’s brown eyes were open. She looked up at Tingley, who told her she was safe now.

Tingley took the baby and jogged toward the road, to firefighter Frank Ybarra, aboard the first firetruck pulling up to the scene.

“I didn’t have one foot on the ground when they handed me a baby covered in mud,” Ybarra said. “She had mud packed in her mouth and nose. She was very cold and wet, and she was not breathing.”

Ybarra cleared her airway with a bulb syringe – five times, 10 times.

“She started moaning a little bit, and breathing,” Ybarra said. “She was living!”

That done, he cut her wet, filthy pajamas off her and wiped mud from her face.

Meanwhile, Teresa Sarabia, barely conscious, had been loaded onto an ambulance. When she awoke, she was frantic about her husband and three children.

“My baby! My baby!” she screamed.

Ybarra showed her the ambulance’s other passenger: a baby.

Hers.

Copyright (c) 1998 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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