COLFAX (CBS13) — An 18-month-old toddler who slipped on ice and fell into a Placer County canal this morning has died.

The toddler was walking along the canal with his stepmother, who also fell in, but was able to get out on her own. By all accounts, the child’s drowning was an accident.

From above, rescuers looked for what seemed like a needle in haystack: an 18-month-old baby boy, Zachary, no bigger than a grown mans arm floating in the icy water of this Colfax canal.

“We just opened the window and heard her yelling, so we ran down and she said call 911,” said Adam Wiesner, a witness.

Adam and friends ran down to the canal to see what was wrong.

“She (the toddler’s stepmother) was freezing, distraught, worried and scared. It was intense,” said Chris Jennings, a witness.

The stepmother was soaking wet, says Chris, who could almost feel her pain.

“They don’t make pain killers for that kind of pain,” said Chris.

The swift current made the search go on for two hours, and as the water was drained, hope faded. Rescuers sifted through debris knowing what they’d find next. Two hours after he fell in, the toddler was found floated into a grate.

Rescuers rushed Zachary to a waiting ambulance that whisked him off to Sutter Auburn Medical Center where the boy was pronounced dead.

“Our detectives are back up on the scene now taking pictures, investigating, interviewing everybody,” said Dena Erwin, a Placer County Sheriffs spokesperson. “Well, at this point it looks like an accident, but I can’t say for absolute sure at this point.”

As the investigation continues, Adam Weisner and his friends are left feeling empty, knowing they tried, but in the end, couldn’t do anything to bring the boy back.

“It’s just horrible. it’s a horrible time for it to happen. It just awful, yea, it’s just awful,” said Adam.


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