Dusti Talavera was gazing out of her apartment window Sunday afternoon, watching a group of children play on a frozen pond, when suddenly they were gone. Three of the kids, ages 4, 6 and 11, fell through the ice.
The 23-year-old ran out of her Arapahoe County home to save the children.
“Nobody was outside. It was me. I knew it was me that had to do it,” Talavera said during a news conference Monday. “Before I even realized it, I was out there on the middle of the pond.”
Talavera quickly pulled a 4-year-old girl and 11-year-old boy out of the freezing water, before falling in herself. She then held an unconscious 6-year-old girl’s head above water while treading in the 15-foot-deep, ice-cold pond.
The girl’s 16-year-old cousin also came to the rescue, throwing the pair a rope and pulling them to safety before emergency responders arrived.
“My instinct was to go outside and help them,” Talavera said. “It was just ... save the kids. They’re just children. I was just worried about them. I didn’t think about (myself).”
The incident happened at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday in the pond in the middle of the Addison at Cherry Creek Apartment Homes at 9100 E. Florida Ave. in Arapahoe County.
After the children were out of the water, Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputies were on the scene, giving the 6-year-old girl CPR. The girl was not breathing and had no pulse when deputies arrived, said Deputy Justin Dillard.
"We reverted back to what we were trained to do," Dillard said. “We’re all fathers and we all have young kids. It’s hard to see a 6-year-old girl whose face is blue with her eyes open and not responding, not breathing."z
Medics with South Metro Fire Rescue took over CPR, getting the girl to start breathing. She was then rushed to Children’s Hospital in critical condition.
On Monday afternoon, the girl was transferred to Denver Health’s intensive care unit in serious condition, but is expected to survive, deputies said. The other two children who fell into the water were unharmed and are safe at home.
Firefighter Corey Sutton described the event as “heroic,” saying Talavera’s quick action and the “all-hands on deck” approach likely saved three lives.
“What she did was amazing. We were back at the fire station talking about how brave she was,” Sutton said through tears. “I have four boys and … I hope if this happened to one of mine, that somebody like her was close by.”
The investigation into the incident is ongoing. No criminal charges are expected, deputies said.