Woman runs across 4 lanes of traffic, jumps in canal to rescue drowning Ore. toddler

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 12:02:46-04

REDMOND, OR — A woman who rescued a toddler after she spotted him running across an Oregon highway says a higher power put her in the right place at the right time.

Many are calling Bailey Vardanega a hero after she rescued a two-year-old boy who ran across Highway 97 and fell into a canal. She says she's grateful she reacted and listened to God.

Vardanega was driving along Highway 97 in Oregon Tuesday evening when she saw the father of the two-year-old flagging down drivers.

She then saw the toddler run across the highway and fall into the canal.

Vardanega left her car, crossed 4 lanes of traffic and followed the boy.

"I jump in the canal and I just start swimming, and I swam and I swam. I'm watching him go up and down and fighting, a two year old fighting in water. I get about a couple strokes from him and he stopped fighting and he was face down and his arms were up," said Vardanega.

The woman brought the two-year-old to shore. She says he coughed up some water but was breathing.

Vardanega, who is a realtor and has two kids of her own, said she's always in mom mode.

The child was being babysat by a grandmother at a home. Police say she didn't realize the child had gone missing.

At the time, the boys father had been walking home from the area of grocery outlet when he spotted his son running across Highway 97.

"You don't think twice on those things, it's not what we're supposed to do. We're supposed to help and help one another. Especially the innocent that don't know, that's what we're supposed to do," said Vardanega.

The grandmother, 51 year old Jodie Ewing of Redmond, was cited for second-degree child neglect and the case is under review of the Department of Human Services and the District Attorney's Office.

It is illegal in Oregon to leave a child under age 10 unattended for any period of time that may endanger the child's health or welfare.

The police investigation continues.