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Woman Pulled From Torrent Is Grateful but Shaken

TIMES STAFF WRITER

At first, Edith Duran laughed when she slipped in the stream in front of her San Pedro home. Other storms had flooded West 18th Street.

“I said, ‘Oh great, I’m wet,’ ” Duran recalled.

But seconds later, the 25-year-old mother--rushing to save her daughter from the knee-deep torrent--was caught in the fast-moving water and sucked beneath her Honda Prelude.

On Friday, Duran returned home from San Pedro Peninsula Hospital, two days after neighbors had pulled her and her daughter, Marcy, from the river created by the Southern California storm. Duran had nearly drowned, and her skin was blue from lack of oxygen, when three men pulled her from the swirling water.

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“I am so thankful to them,” said Duran, who works at a nearby clothing store and attends Long Beach City College. “If they weren’t there, I probably wouldn’t be here.”

Duran, her daughter and a friend, Don Pursley Jr., had returned from lunch Wednesday to find a rushing stream blocking their way across the sloping street. The three started venturing across anyway, until Duran slipped and fell about 30 feet from the front door of her apartment.

Seconds later, her daughter slid into the current, and Duran shouted for help. But as she struggled to Marcy’s side, she was pulled into a vortex of water under the car’s front end.

“I really don’t know what I grabbed, but I was just trying to hold on,” Duran said. “My thoughts were (that) if they could see my hands sticking out they would know where I was.”

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Pursley and two neighbors who witnessed the ordeal, Manuel Delgado and Steve Maisner, had just saved Marcy--who was not seriously injured--when they spotted Duran. At first, the force of the current prevented them from pulling her free.

“I tried to hold my breath,” Duran said. “But after a while I got a tingling sensation. I remember spotted lights, like round spotted lights. At that time I realized I was passing out. I thought I was drowning and that was it, that was the way I was going to go.”

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It took Maisner several minutes to push the car with his pickup truck, moving it enough to enable the other men to free Duran.

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Maisner and Christine Barraza, 28, performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Duran. It took them several minutes to detect a pulse.

Duran, who had blacked out while under water, said the next thing she remembered was waking up with her mother at her bedside.

“I just heard my mother’s voice,” Duran said. “It was then that I realized I was somewhere safe.”

Doctors say she will recover. But she still feels tired and a bit shocked.

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“I’m still shaky and weak about it,” she said. “They are saying another storm is coming, and I just want to stay away from it.”


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