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Brothers who saved niece hailed
Toddler rescued from backyard pool
brothers hailed
Hero honors were given Monday by the Ceres City Council to Angelo Bermudez, 17, of Ceres, who is credited with helping to save 18-month-old niece Milania Bertolotti from drowning in a backyard pool. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER / The Journal

Two young men were heralded at Monday's Ceres City Council meeting for saving the life of their 18-month-old niece who was found in the bottom of a swimming pool in Ceres one Saturday morning last month.

Norma Bermudez was watching her granddaughter, Milania Bertolotti, on Feb. 22 at the family home on Sagittarius Avenue. After 10 a.m. when things seemed too quiet, the grandmother went to check on the toddler and noticed that the sliding glass door to the backyard was open. The child was in the bottom of the pool. The grandmother jumped in and tried unsuccessfully to reach Milania to pull her from the water. She began screaming frantically.

Norma's screams alarmed neighbors who fearfully called 9-1-1 knowing something was wrong, and alarmed her 18-year-old son Domingo Bermudez, 19, who came running and immediately jumped into the frigid pool to get the child out. Domingo just happened to be delayed on a trip to work because he had trouble finding his wallet.

"He ran out in full clothes, dove into the pool, went into the deep end, and pulled his niece out," explained Ceres Police Sgt. James Yandell on Monday, "and although he's received no formal training in CPR, he immediately initiated a life-saving CPR on the infant."

Norma instructed her son to continue CPR on Milania until an ambulance arrived. Domingo's brother, Angelo Burmudez, 17, was first unaware of anything wrong as he was in a bedroom listening to headphones. She came into the room and told him to go outside to help his brother. In the backyard he saw Domingo working on a lifeless body.

Meanwhile, emergency dispatcher Amanda Rodriguez attempted to calm Norma over the phone and asked to speak to Domingo. While on speaker phone, the dispatcher gave instructions on CPR to the brothers. Domingo administered chest compressions while Angelo performed mouth-to-mouth breathing until the toddler began coughing up water and the milk that she drank before she went into the pool. The dispatcher instructed the child to then be placed on her side. Then Domingo picked his niece up and began patting her on the back while Angelo told his mother that they were able to get her granddaughter to start breathing again.

When AMR paramedics and police arrived, the girl was conscious, moving and visibly upset.

"The doctor said basically she's a miracle baby," said Sgt. Yandell, "that she appeared to be healthy and fine."

The child was checked out first at Memorial Medical Center in Modesto and then at an Oakland children's hospital.

Yandell said in his 18 years of police work that "you don't normally see this outcome and you definitely don't see this from a couple of teenage boys who've had no formal training. ... They were amazingly calm and professional through the whole thing."

Dispatcher Rodriguez complimented Angelo for being calm and collected on the phone.

"You did such a great job," Rodriguez told Angelo at the council meeting. "Most people who are on the phone are obviously very upset and distraught and scared by what's going on but you kept it cool the whole time. You did a really great job."

Domingo Bermudez was unable to be at the meeting but Angelo nervously spoke about the situation.

"This is my first niece," said Angelo. "Me and my brother look at her like ... almost like a little daughter ... but it's something that nobody in this room wants to hear about, see, even think about. I'm just happy."