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Detective Discovers Declared-Dead Toddler Alive

November 14, 2003  | 

A Fullerton, Calif., police detective photographing the body of a 20-month-old drowning victim noticed the little girl’s chest rising and falling. After his partner called in medical personnel it was confirmed that the toddler, pronounced dead an hour before, had a pulse and was breathing on her own.

Fullerton Police Department’s Det. Mike Kendrick had just told Mackayala Jespersen’s mother, Melissa, that doctors had not been able to save the girl and she had died. After this discovery, however, he was able to tell Melissa Jespersen that Mackayala was, in fact, alive.

Mackayala had somehow gotten outside of her home in Fullerton and fallen into a swimming pool, where a family member found her floating face-down in 52-degree water, according to police reports and emergency workers.

The two police officers who answered the family’s 911 call used CPR and emergency workers used breathing tubes, and a heating blanket to revive her, but the girl was declared dead at the hospital. No one can explain why or how she is alive.

Mackayala is not fully alert, but she is breathing on her own and moving her eyes and body, and doctors say tests show no signs of serious brain damage.

Det. Kendrick and his partner stopped by the hospital to visit Mackayala. Her mother was happy to see them and gave Kendrick a hug.

"She asked if I would come back and visit Mackayala when she comes home," Kendrick said. "I said sure."

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