Angelo Mondragon is officially a father of three. In his heart, he's a father of four. The 32-year-old Colorado man was in waist-deep water while swimming at Windsor Lake north of Denver on Sunday afternoon when he felt something brush against his feet, reports CBS Denver. It wasn't a sensation he expected to feel in a lake, so he tells the Coloradoan he "did sort of a back kick" to surface "whatever it was." Mondragon turned to see a tiny foot just below the surface, and his paternal instincts immediately kicked in. "I saw just the bottom of her feet and then right then at that moment, that became my child," he tells CBS Denver. "I reached in and I pulled her out like I would any of my babies."
The girl, 3-year-old Sitlali Hernandez (some initial reports had her age as 4), was unconscious and "already blue," he says, but two off-duty certified nurses happened to be at the lake, too, and when Mondragon carried her to the shore they helped revive her, reports Tribune Media Wire. After regaining consciousness and being rushed by ambulance to a nearby hospital, she met and hugged the man who helped save her the next day. Mondragon says she is now family. The Coloardoan notes it was his first visit to the lake, and Mondragon now hopes to make subsequent ones safer for all. He observes that Sitlali wasn't wearing a life vest, and says he wants to start an effort to collect such flotation devices to be used by those who don't have or can't afford one. (Learn how this toddler almost drowned hours after exiting the water.)