45-year-old Kimberly Felder was taken into custody by the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday after allegedly trying to perform an exorcism on her 11-year-old daughter at the Centerville beach close to Ferndale in California.

A crowd of witnesses watched the mother beating her daughter

The Sacramento Bee reports around 10 to 12 people were witnessing the attack on the girl, but only one person stepped up to assist. John Marciel, the witness in question, saw Felder stripping her daughter naked before biting, beating and choking the young girl. Felder also allegedly pushed sand into her daughter’s mouth and eyes before Marciel managed to stop her.

Attempted exorcism by mother on her daughter

5 News reports that when Marciel approached Felder, she told him she was trying to remove demons from her daughter and carried on hitting her daughter’s head with a piece of driftwood, while he attempted to stop her. Marciel eventually wrestled Felder to the ground, while talking with 911 operators on his phone. When officers arrived at the scene, they separated Felder from the girl and handcuffed the woman. Marciel went on to tell the Associated Press that Felder had questioned him about his faith.

Daughter hospitalized after attempted exorcism, heading to child protective care

According to Humboldt County Sheriff’s Sgt. Greg Allen, Felder’s daughter, was hospitalized with several injuries, including significant damage to her ear. Allen continued by saying the daughter will shortly be placed in protective child custody.

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Felder has been arrested on charges of attempted homicide, child abuse, aggravated mayhem and assault with a deadly weapon. According to Allen, a toxicology test was run on Felder to establish whether she had been under the influence of drugs, but the results are not yet available. The case heads to prosecutors on Monday.

Witness recommended for a Red Cross Life Saving Award

The Sheriff’s office believes Felder would likely have killed the girl in the attempted exorcism if Marciel hadn’t intervened to stop her. According to a news release from the Sheriff’s office, officials are recommending Marciel receive a Red Cross Life Saving Award for saving the girl.

As for Marciel, he said he was happy that he was there at the time to stop the incident. At the time it happened, he was taking some visitors to the beach before reportedly attending his son’s high school graduation. Marciel said one of the worst things about the incident was that when the child was placed in the Sheriff’s vehicle, she said several people had driven by, but nobody stopped to help. He said this fact tends to shake your faith in people.