2 Near-Drownings in 6 Months : Deputy Again Saves the Day for Family

Times Staff Writer

Rescuing a Thousand Oaks family from drowning is becoming second nature for a Ventura County sheriff’s deputy.

Twice in six months, Deputy Stan Duitsman has helped save the same family’s children from drowning in back-yard swimming pools, Ventura County sheriff’s officials said Saturday.

The latest rescue occurred late Friday afternoon, when Duitsman helped resuscitate 11-month-old Joshua Pierce, who toppled into a pool behind his baby-sitter’s house.

Last year, Duitsman helped revive Joshua’s older sister after she fell into a pool at the home of her father, Jerry Harvey, authorities said.


Joshua had been left at the baby- sitter’s Calle Cardo home Friday while the Harveys took his sister to Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks to be checked for an illness unrelated to last year’s near-drowning, friends said.

The Harveys were at the hospital when Joshua was rushed into the emergency room, officials said.

Joshua tumbled into the water, baby-sitter Joy Walls, 24, said, adding that a pool cleaner apparently left a corner of the pool’s cover open Friday afternoon.

In Pool for 4 Minutes


“He was in the deep end under the cover when I found him,” Walls said. “He may have been in an air pocket under there.”

She estimated he was in the pool for four minutes.

Walls pulled the boy out, called 911 and was given resuscitation instructions over the phone by sheriff’s Deputy Rick Barber as she and neighbor Ragnar Ragnarsson struggled to revive the child.

“Deputies found him pale and not breathing when they arrived,” Deputy Jody Keller said Saturday.

Joshua was transferred by helicopter from Los Robles to Valley Presbyterian Hospital on Friday night.

He was described as “alert and awake” and in stable condition Saturday night by hospital spokeswoman Cynthia Citron.

“He seems to be doing well. Time will tell,” said Harvey, who added that he and his wife became Joshua’s foster parents three weeks ago. He declined to comment on last year’s rescue.

Duitsman was off duty and unavailable for comment Saturday. Sheriff’s officials confirmed that last year’s rescue took place but were unable to provide more details on the incident.