What was supposed to be a camping adventure on one of the Channel Islands turned into a vacation nightmare for the family of an 8-year-old Cerritos girl who fell off a seawall while looking at sea birds.
Maryanne Duarte fell 15 feet and landed on rocks on Anacapa Island Friday, said her father Carl, 36, who witnessed the accident.
Maryanne was reported in satisfactory condition Saturday after suffering head injuries and cuts on her left arm and leg, said a nursing supervisor at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Oxnard.
“It has not been a good trip,” Duarte said. On the day of his daughter’s accident, she cut her hand on a knife.
Then Duarte’s 64-year-old father, Manuel, panicked and fell, breaking his leg, after seeing the child tumble off the wall.
Maryanne, described by her father as somewhat of a tomboy, was on her way back to shore after her first camping trip to Anacapa Island when the accident occurred.
Maryanne, her sister, grandfather and father were waiting for a National Park Service boat to return them to shore when they saw brown pelicans, Duarte said.
“I was climbing over a lot of things. When I was at the top, I fell,” Maryanne said from her hospital bed Saturday. “My dad was there. He said the whole thing went so fast.”
National Park Service rangers administered first aid to the girl until a Coast Guard helicopter from Los Angeles arrived and took her to the hospital, Petty Officer Scott Wassermann said.
Duarte said park rangers and Coast Guard officials worked quickly to help Maryanne. Coast Guard officials later called to inquire about her health.
“Everyone kind of worked together. . . .” Duarte said. “One of the park rangers was a paramedic. He was taking all of her vital signs, and I was freaking out all this time.”
Duarte blamed himself for the accident.
He said he was leading his two daughters over the seawall to get a closer look at the birds when Maryanne slipped.
She fell over a series of jagged rocks and finally landed about three or four feet from the water, Duarte said.
In addition to the cuts and bruises, Maryanne suffered a slight cut on her liver and must avoid rigorous activity for about 1 1/2 months, he said.
“We just wanted to get away from it all,” said Duarte, a certified public accountant.
“This was an excursion that turned into a nightmare.”
Despite the accident, Duarte said he plans to take his daughters on another camping trip to Santa Cruz Island later this fall. On that trip he plans to take precautions.
Maryanne “is a muscular little kid. She likes to do different things. She’s not too afraid of anything,” he said.
But next time, he added, “I’m going to have her tied to a rope.”