By CBSLA Staff

RANCHO CUCAMONGA (CBSLA) –– Almost three years ago, a San Bernardino County Sheriff’s deputy found a young girl lethargic, malnourished and emaciated wrapped in a wet towel.

They came to her rescue, and are now sharing the story of her remarkable recovery after doctors said she initially had just days to live.

The pair were reunited, where the little girl named Payge, gave him a card to express her gratitude for his heroic actions.

Payge and her adopted family. (Courtesy: San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office)

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Richardson was investigating an unrelated call about a shooting in a Rancho Cucamonga neighborhood in July 2018.

While questioning neighbors there about the gunshots, he found Payge in a trailer with her biological father.

There was no electricity or running water there, and officials also noted they saw a gun on the counter and smelled rotting food in the mobile home.

“Me and my partner both looked at each other, and we were like, something’s not right,” Richardson said. “He said, ‘She’s fine, she’s eating.’ And I said, ‘She’s not fine.'”

Richardson called paramedics to check her health, and she was rushed to the emergency room at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

Investigators later determined that Payge’s parents had plenty of formula but were neglecting to feed her.

Payge also suffered from a severe skin infection and other abuse.

“The doctor’s said she only had three to four days if we didn’t find her. So, that’s when it hit,” Richardson said.

Now 2-year-old Payge has since been adopted and now will never have to return to the home where she was being abused, all because a sheriff’s deputy followed his gut instinct.

Payge’s biological father has a sentencing hearing in February.

The San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office has more information on Payge’s story and others here.