A New Jersey family is rejoicing a "miracle" Tuesday after a 3-year-old girl was rescued from a 15-foot plunge into a septic tank when a neighbor's caretaker risked her own life to save her.
Marlen Machigua, of Hackettstown, said she had no words to describe her gratitude to Luz Jimenez, a caretaker for an elderly neighbor who followed her daughter Alyson Machigua into the hole a day earlier.
"Everyone thought it was going to be something worse," said Rosaura Murillo,whose sister was rescued. "How's a baby going to survive 10 feet under there, with rocks and water underneath her? She did. She's just a miracle."
Police said the little girl and some friends wandered into a neighbor's yard when Alyson stepped over an old septic tank hole and fell 15 feet into it.
Luz Jimenez was caring for the elderly woman who owns the property and sprung into action when she heard the screams.
"I didn't even think how far down it was," said Jimenez. "I didn't even think of that. I just thought to try and help her. All I saw was water down there. I thought she was going to die in the water."
Jimenez ran to get a cable cord to lower herself into the hole. She says the cops tried to stop her, but she insisted on rescuing Alyson. When she reached the child, little Alyson was as cold as metal and shaking and crying, Jimenez said. First responders used a ladder to rescue both Luz and Alyson.
"I was so happy and just having her in my arms, even though she was crying, that was the happiest thing for me," said Rosaura Murillo. "It's a miracle from God and we're very thankful for everybody who came out to help."
Luz Jimenez said she was grateful the child was not harmed.
"I just feel so happy that nothing wrong happened to her," Jimenez said. "She's very lucky. God blessed her. She didn't even have a scratch."
Published at 6:47 PM EDT on Jun 17, 2014 | Updated at 3:48 AM EDT on Jun 18, 2014