State trooper saves baby from river

Posted: Monday, July 09, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A state trooper saved the life of a baby after the car she was riding in went through a guard rail and plunged into the Chena River.

Witnesses said the driver of the car, 25-year-old Annie R. Ketzler, appeared drunk on Friday as she was driving around downtown Fairbanks. Claire Ketzler, 1, was strapped into a child seat next to her mother, police said.

Trooper Larry Erickson was pulling into his driveway after just getting off duty around 11:30 p.m. Friday when he was flagged down by a passing motorist who saw Ketzler hit a parked car.

Erickson got to the crash scene first. He saw a car 20 feet off the bank and a woman stumbling toward him in waist-deep water. Witnesses said a baby was in the car.

''I screamed at the woman, 'Where's the child?' She looked at me, then turned and looked at the car. Then she just went ballistic and screamed at me to help her,'' he said Saturday.

Erickson waded into the water and cut the child out of her restraints, pulled her from the car and brought her to shore. She had no pulse. He started breathing air into her lungs and another trooper started compressing the small chest to get her heart beating. The pair worked for a minute, but the child still didn't start breathing. Another minute passed, and she convulsed. Water began pouring out of her nose and mouth.

Annie Ketzler was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where she was in satisfactory condition Sunday. The hospital refused to release any information on the baby.

''It wasn't no big thing. There's no way one of us could have done it without the rest of us,'' Erickson said.

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