In a world starved for a morsel of good news, an incredible video out of Kansas shows a man saving his neighbor’s four-year-old autistic son after the boy nearly drowned in an apartment complex’s pool.
Tom Westerhaus, of Lawrence, had CPR training 15 years prior and when his 12-year-old-son, Maddox, alerted him that the boy was in the pool alone and lifeless, Westerhaus immediately jumped the wrought iron fence, lifted four-year-old Xavier out of the pool, and proceeded to give him CPR for nearly three minutes, Daily Mail reported.
“When he started to cough up water… I knew it was a good sign,” Westerhaus said.
Xavier’s mother, Alexis Rigney, said she was grateful that Maddox had been playing with friends around the pool area, and she could not bear to think of where the family would be if Xavier hadn’t been spotted.
(Video: Daily Mail)
‘I don’t know what I would have done if [Maddox] wouldn’t have been in the pool and hadn’t seen [Xavier],’ she said in tears.
Westerhaus and his son have been given Hometown Hero awards by the Lawrence Fire Medical Department who arrived on the scene shortly after Xavier regained consciousness.
During a press conference to honor the two, the Lawrence Fire Department reiterated the importance of quick action in a situation such as a potential drowning while they narrated the dramatic security camera video.
“His head goes completely under the water. His mouth and nose never come up above the water, and that’s why we say they don’t have the ability to scream,” Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Lt. Jeff Krall, an EMT who lost a child of his own in 2008, explained. “What you see with his arms, you see just a little bit of movement, we call it climbing, they’re trying to climb out of the water.”
(Video: Daily Mail)
Xavier’s mother said she had simply gone to use the bathroom on the afternoon of May 18 and when she came out, the boy was nowhere to be found in the apartment.
“So I went to his room and checked and he wasn’t there,” Rigney said at the press conference.
“I went to the living room because he plays in the living room, that’s where the TV is, and he wasn’t there but the door was open.”
It is unknown how the young Xavier accessed the locked pool area, though it is conceivable he may have been able to slip his small body between the vertical bars.
Thankfully, Maddox and his friends were playing outside near the pool.
“My friends were yelling at me to go get help and I just went like ”oh no” and ran,” Maddox said.
Alexis Rigney spent the next minutes in absolute terror as emergency vehicles rolled up with sirens blaring.
“I didn’t see anybody but I could see the paramedics and fire department going into the back of the building so I followed them and Xavier was being pulled out of the pool,” she recalled, “But I didn’t see him moving so I didn’t know he was okay at the time.”
“A lot of autistic kids, they love large bodies of water, pools, lakes and like the ocean. I didn’t know until I was in the hospital, they let me know a lot of information about autistic kids,” she said.
According to the National Drowning Prevention League, children with autism are ten times more likely to drown.
“He’s my best friend so I don’t know what I would do without him,” the distraught yet grateful Rigney said of young Xavier.
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