Father and son save 4-year-old from drowning

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — A 4-year-old autistic boy who spent three minutes submerged in an apartment pool is alive today thanks to the quick actions of a father and son.

Video taken by an apartment surveillance camera shows 4-year-old Xavier coming out of his family’s apartment and heading straight for the pool. The boy, clad only in a pair of shorts, runs straight to the pool and jumps in.

Xavier, who doesn’t know how to swim, was in trouble immediately. Fortunately for the boy, Tom Westerhaus jumped to the rescue after his 12-year-old son, Maddox, alerted him. Xavier spent just over three minutes in the pool, plenty of time for the young boy to drown.

In another lucky break for Xavier, Tom Westerhaus had lifeguard training, which included CPR. He got Xavier to the side of the pool and immediately began resuscitation. After two minutes, the child began to cough up water and came back to consciousness.

At a police news conference, Tom and Maddox were introduced to Xavier’s mother, Alexis Rigney, who said she was tending to her 4-month-old when she realized Xavier had slipped out of the apartment. “Anything could have happened,” she said tearfully, “I’m just glad that he’s OK now. He’s my best friend and I don’t know what I would do without him.”

Tom and Maddox were both honored by the fire department and given “Hometown Hero” awards and two challenge coins showing that they were part of the department’s family.

NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” had Battalion Chief Rob Fleeup, who is the Lawrence-Douglas county fire medic, join the program Tuesday and he said Xavier’s life undoubtedly saved that day.

“What Tom and his son Maddox did absolutely saved Xavier’s life. Just by watching the video, you can see Xavier just plunge into the pool. With the locked gate and the fence around, there wasn’t anybody that was going to be able to do anything.” Fleeup said.

“Drowning doesn’t look like drowning. When you watch Xavier actually go into the water, he just slips under. He’s unable to get his head above water. His mouth, his nose is under water, and that’s normally what you see,” Fleeup continued.

According to Fleeup, half of the drownings for ages 15 and younger are cases just like Xavier, where the victims just slip under the surface unnoticed.

Which is why he has this advice:

“If I can just impress upon communities … to learn that kind of resuscitative measure. If you watch the video, he did not give up. He knew what he was doing was the right thing and he was willing Xavier to life. Learning … the hands-free CPR would be fantastic, so we can have more of these stories,” he said.

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