MARIPOSA COUNTY — A three-year-old girl is safe and sound after being found by a horseback rider in the forest yesterday.
On Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 12:30 p.m Mariposa County Sheriff deputies responded to a call in the Jerseydale area of Mariposa County for a found child.
A Mariposa resident was riding her horse in a remote area of Hites Cove Road, within the Sierra National Forest, when she came across a vehicle stuck off the roadway.
After calling out towards the vehicle, the rider noticed a three-year-old girl and a dog inside. The little girl was wearing only a t-shirt and was very cold to the touch so the rider took off her jacket and wrapped up the little girl before loading her onto her horse. The rider then worked her way back up the roadway to an area that had cell phone reception.
Mariposa County Sheriff deputies arrived on scene and after speaking with the little girl, it was determined that a Search and Rescue response was needed to locate the little girl’s mother. California Highway Patrol helicopter H40 responded to the scene as well to assist with the search mission.
A Mariposa County Sheriff deputy searching the area located the mother, Heather Escandon, 27, of Coarsegold, hiding in the bushes. According to the Sheriff’s Office, Escandon was uncooperative with investigating deputies. However, she told deputies she became stuck in the area last Sunday and left on foot sometime on Tuesday to look for help, leaving the little girl overnight in the vehicle.
While speaking with the woman, it was determined that she was under the influence of a stimulant, believed to be methamphetamine, says the Sheriff’s Office.
Escandon was arrested and is currently being held at the Mariposa County Adult Detention Facility on charges of Felony Child Abuse, and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Bail has been set at $35,000.
The little girl was transported to John C. Fremont Hospital for evaluation and released to her father.
“We are so relieved that the horse rider found the little girl yesterday, which ultimately led to the woman being located also,” said Sheriff Doug Binnewies. “With the recent winter weather blowing in, it could have been an entirely different situation if they were both out there for much longer. I believe the Mariposa resident that found the girl, most likely saved two lives yesterday. She’s a hero.”