Paramedic in Illinois rescues baby from submerged SUV

A body is recovered near Silver Lake in Highland, Ill., on Thursday after a car with an infant was pulled from the lake earlier in the morning
  • A paramedic saved an infant after finding him floating in a submerged SUV
  • Seven siblings who survived a tragic chain of events in Glen Carbon, Illinois
  • The mother's body was recovered in the lake the baby was found
  • An adult male, believed to be the father, died in the house fire early Thursday
  • The six children also in the house fire all miraculously escaped unharmed

A fast-acting paramedic was able to save an infant's life after the three-month-old boy was found floating atop a submerged SUV on Thursday. 

The infant was one of seven siblings who survived a tragic chain of events that left one person dead in a house fire and second body, identified as the mother, recovered from the lake where the baby was found.

It all began at 5:15 a.m. in Glen Carbon, Illinois, when fire broke out at a home owned by Cristy Lynn Campbell. 

An adult male, believed to be the father, died in the fire but six children, siblings ranging up to age 14, escaped. Glen Carbon is about 30 miles east of St. Louis.

 Some of the children ran to a nearby Wal-Mart, others to a home in the neighborhood. The kids at the Wal-Mart asked an arriving worker to call 911, Lakin said

Some of the children ran to a nearby Wal-Mart, others to a home in the neighborhood. The kids at the Wal-Mart asked an arriving worker to call 911, Lakin said

Sheriff John Lakin said the person killed has not been identified, but Campbell's estranged husband and the father of the children, Justin Campbell, has not been accounted for.

 Cristy Campbell's body was identified as having drowned in the same river where her infant son was found submerged in an SUV 

Cristy Campbell's body was identified as having drowned in the same river where her infant son was found submerged in an SUV 

Surveillance video obtained from a neighbor shows an SUV's headlights switching on in the driveway of the house around 4:50 a.m., and several minutes later it backed out of the driveway. 

About three minutes later, a reflection from the flames of the burning house can be seen on the side of a nearby house, reported STL today.  

Some of the children ran to a nearby Wal-Mart, others to a home in the neighborhood. The kids at the Wal-Mart asked an arriving worker to call 911, Lakin said.

Police could not enter the house until the fire was fully put out, and the body was removed mid afternoon on Thursday.  

Cristy Campbell was not in the home when firefighters arrived nor was the couple's infant son.

At 5:31 a.m., a motorist passing near Silver Lake in Highland, Illinois, about 16 miles from the home, saw a car heading down a hill toward the water and called 911, Lakin said.

 The infant was one of seven siblings who survived a tragic chain of events that left one person dead in a house fire and second body, identified as the mother, recovered from the lake where the baby was found

The infant was one of seven siblings who survived a tragic chain of events that left one person dead in a house fire and second body, identified as the mother, recovered from the lake where the baby was found

 Firefighters and other emergency workers at the scene

Firefighters and other emergency workers at the scene

Highland paramedic Todd Zobrist arrived quickly, jumped into the 46-degree water and swam 50 to 75 feet to the SUV, where he found a baby floating inside the car. He pulled the baby by the arm to the hood of the SUV, where he began CPR, then swam with the child to shore.

The child, initially unresponsive, is expected to recover and could be released Friday from a hospital in St. Charles, Missouri, Lakin said.

'Today was a tragic day all the way around because of both scenes,' Lakin said. 'Fortunately, there is something good that can come of this.'

Highland Emergency Medical Services chief Brian Wilson said Zobrist's actions were heroic.

'He definitely saved the child's life,' Wilson said.

After finding the baby, authorities began searching the water. A body was pulled from the lake around 11:15 a.m. 

While the body has not been identified, Lakin said police are no longer searching for Cristy Campbell. A gun was also found inside the SUV, a source told STL today. 

 

Cristy Campbell was not in the home when firefighters arrived nor was the couple's infant son

Police could not enter the house until the fire was fully put out, and the body was removed mid afternoon on Thursday

A neighbor, Sherry Ricker, said she believed that Justin Campbell was living in the house, and that the family was always busy with a variety of activities. 

She said she saw Christy Campbell and held the baby three days ago, and that she seemed happy.  

Court records showed that Cristy Campbell and Justin Campbell, 37, had a volatile relationship. 

In 2005, before they were married, Justin Campbell was charged with domestic abuse for allegedly attacking Cristy Campbell, then known as Cristy Brueggemann, by slapping her in the head when she was pregnant. He was sentenced in March 2006 to probation and fined $500.

Despite the violence they wed on Nov. 3, 2006. She filed for legal separation in September 2010, but the matter was dismissed two months later. 

 The infant is being treated at a St. Louis hospital after the car the child was in rolled into the lake

The infant is being treated at a St. Louis hospital after the car the child was in rolled into the lake

 Conservation police search Silver Lake in Highland, Ill., on Thursday, March 16, 2017, after a car with an infant was pulled from the lake earlier in the morning

Conservation police search Silver Lake in Highland, Ill., on Thursday, March 16, 2017, after a car with an infant was pulled from the lake earlier in the morning

In April 2012, Cristy Campbell obtained an emergency protection order against her husband and filed for divorce, alleging in court papers that he 'abuses me on a weekly basis,' including punching and choking her.

'He has told me that I'm a no good wife,' Campbell wrote in her application for the protection order.

The divorce was granted in February 2013.

Despite these reports, a manager at Bob Evans restaurant in Collinsville, where Justin Campbell was an employee, said the staff is distraught, and told STL today that Campbell was 'an outstanding guy who loved his kids'.

Lakin said Glen Carbon police have answered several calls to Campbell's home, including some 'domestic-related situations,' but he declined to elaborate.

'The Glen Carbon Police Department was aware of that house,' Lakin said.  

Authorities said the children are with Illinois authorities and will be placed with relatives.

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By Mathias Dillion 03/17/2017 01:18:00