A man is facing child endangerment charges after officials say he left his young daughter in the car for hours in Carpinteria and then later jumped into the ocean to try to get away from authorities.
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office says deputies responded to an area near the 6100 block of Carpinteria Avenue at around 11:30 p.m. Monday to reports that a 6-year-old girl was looking for her father after he reportedly pulled over to use the restroom at Viola Fields.
“The child was left in the vehicle and after waiting for several hours went looking for her dad in the dark parking lot,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release.
The girl reportedly contacted a custodian at a nearby business and requested help.
When deputies arrived, sheriff’s officials say they searched the area for the girl’s father, who was identified as German Noe Sotelo, 39, of Carpinteria, but were unable to locate him.
A K-9 team was brought in to search the Venoco Pier area and a Ventura County Air Support helicopter was also requested.
The crew in the air reportedly located Sotelo walking along the beach and when he realized he had been spotted, Sotelo jumped into the ocean and started swimming away, the sheriff’s office said.
At that time, crews from the Carpinteria Summerland Fire Department and a U.S. Coast Guard boat and helicopter were requested at the scene along with an ambulance.
“After more than an hour in the water, Sotelo was rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. Once he is medically cleared, he will be booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of Child Endangerment,” the sheriff’s office said.
Sheriff’s officials say Child Welfare Services was called out and the girl, who was not injured, was ultimately reunited with her mother and released into her custody.
Battalion Chief Mike Gallagher with the Carpinteria Summerland Fire Department says the successful rescue was due to a coordinated effort between all the agencies involved. Gallagher also credits a private boat owner in the area who he says was in touch with authorities and was able to help monitor the situation from a safe distance and light up the area to assist with the man’s rescue.
Gallagher says they do not know why the man jumped into the ocean.