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‘SURVIVE THEY DID’

‘Angels’ help 2 young boys cheat death

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‘SURVIVE THEY DID’

Manteca traffic officer David Bright congratulates the two girls in the center who were key to their mother jumping in the pool and saving the lives of Devin Fells, 6, and his brother Caleb, 2. Th...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin


POSTED May 10, 2013 1:53 a.m.

It is seen as a “Miracle on Judith Court” Tuesday afternoon that is responsible for two brothers, 6, and 2, being rescued by a neighbor who jumped into her pool to save the youngsters she said appeared lifeless, floating on the top of the water.

Mother of five, Maria Salazar, was frying tortillas in her kitchen about 5:30 in the 1200 block cul-de-sac when she dropped one on the floor.  Irritated with what she had done, she told her 6-year-old daughter, Joselle, to pick it up and throw it in the trash.

“No, not in here,” she told her of the kitchen trash container.  “Take it outside – it has oil on it.”

There was no other reason for the children to have gone out near the pool as they were getting ready for dinner, but Joselle did what her mother told her to do.  Joselle quickly ran back into the house and told her 8-year-old sister that there were two boys floating on the top of the pool – they ran for their mom.

Salazar said she was shocked to see those boys just floating there and visibly not breathing. They obviously had been under water, their dad said.  She jumped into the pool with her clothes on to pull them out – recognizing they were the children from next door.  She told her kids to run over and tell their parents to come. 

One of her girls came running back and said no one is answering the door.  Maria Salazar took it into her own hands, saying she ran around the front yards and kicked at the door about five times with her foot until someone appeared, telling them to come, quick.

The boys’ mom Marissa Fells ran over and began CPR on her 6-year-old son Devin while Marissa Salazar attempted to revive 2-year-old, Caleb,  with CPR.  Sgt. Mike Aguilar was the first police officer on the scene followed closely by motorcycle officer David Bright – with two other officers close behind.

“She thought they were dead,” cousin Trina Villafan commented on Thursday afternoon.  Maria was heard screaming, “Please be alive!” as she pulled their lifeless bodies from the pool and laid them on the cement.

The mother’s account of her sons’ adventure into the neighbor’s pool from their back yard was that the 2-year-old had pushed open a board in the fence and went into the pool with his older brother following suit. The older sibling went into the water to save the toddler from drowning.

The two boys were airlifted by DHI medical helicopter Tuesday evening from the heliport at Kaiser Hospital to Children’s Hospital in Oakland. They have since been released in good condition.  The 6-year-old began breathing first on his own and the younger boy sometime later, witnesses said. Devin was released Tuesday night and Caleb spent the night in the Bay Area hospital.

The adult cousin, who lives just block away, had noticed the emergency vehicle activity from the track at nearby Sierra High School probably said it best, “She and her kids are angels with God looking over them and guiding them.  It wasn’t time for them (the boys) to go – it was truly a miracle.  She did everything by herself, with her kids, to get them out of the pool alive.”

She said it was the first time she ever knew of Maria dropping anything on the floor that she was cooking – an act of God that put a focus on the pool at a very critical time.

Officer Bright, who has a young child of his own, told the rescuing mother and the two girls that they were true heroes and that he was proud of them for what they had done.  Bright said it was a very chaotic time at the scene, noting that Salazar was soaking wet when he arrived at the home.

A deeply religious person, Maria Salazar called together friends and family members for about three hours Tuesday evening to say the Rosary together in her living room, praying that the boys would survive – survive they did.

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