Cape Girardeau infant rescued from floodwaters

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

JACKSON COUNTY, Ill. -- An Alexander County, Ill., deputy sheriff is being credited with saving a 5-month-old Cape Girardeau infant trapped in floodwaters from the Big Muddy River, according to a Jackson County Sheriff's Department news release.

Deputy Brandon Craig, 25, was the first person on the scene of a single-vehicle accident that occurred shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday near the Jackson County/Union County line in Illinois. After hearing cries for help from four Hispanic women from Cape Girardeau, he looked toward the floodwaters and noticed a car seat floating in the river 50 yards from the vehicle. Craig then rescued the girl, who was strapped in her car seat and was face-down in the river.

"The baby in her car seat had been floating face down for about 30 to 45 seconds when I arrived there," Craig said. "So I got there just in time. It's really hard to put into words what happened and how I felt."

Police said a 1994 Honda Accord -- containing the female passengers and a 16-year-old Fenton, Mo., boy -- was upside down and partially submerged in the floodwaters when officers arrived on the scene. Craig said the accident occurred when the boy, who was allegedly driving, was traveling at a high rate of speed before attempting to pull the vehicle over to the shoulder of the road near the river. The car's tires hit gravel, which caused the Accord to turn 180 degrees and fall into the water.

The infant and women were then transported to St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in Murphysboro, Ill., where they were treated for injuries that are not believed to be life-threatening.

Police said the driver swam away and fled from the scene after the accident. Jackson County deputies took him into custody shortly before 4:30 a.m. Sunday after he was found walking along Highway 3 near Grand Tower, Ill.

The driver is being held in the Jackson County jail on charges of leaving the scene of an injury accident and obstructing a peace officer. Police said a fingerprint identification suggests he is wanted under a different name out of Jackson County on suspicion of possession of cocaine.

bblackwell@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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