A heroic Kansas man sprang into action to resuscitate a drowning autistic boy in an emotional rescue that was caught on camera earlier this month.
Xavier Rigney, 4, who is non-verbal, had bolted out of his mother’s Lawrence apartment and figured out how to gain entry to the complex’s locked pool on May 18, according to The Topeka Capital-Journal.
The boy, clad in a diaper, took one step into the deep end and was immediately completely submerged, security video showed.
He began trying to reach for something to climb onto in vain and quickly became unresponsive.
Neighbor Maddox Westerhaus, 12, saw Xavier underwater and told his father Tom, who jumped the locked fence and pulled the boy from the water.
He had been submerged for 200 seconds — nearly three and a half minutes, according to the article.
Tom Westerhaus, a former lifeguard, performed chest compressions for almost three minutes until authorities arrived. When Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical battalion chief Rob Fleeup got to the scene, the boy was reportedly awake and breathing.
The father and son’s actions were “one of the most heroic things [he had] ever witnessed,” Fleeup said at a Thursday ceremony to celebrate the rescue.
“We’re very happy to celebrate this positive outcome,” Fleeup reportedly said, “because far too often, these stories do not have a positive outcome.”
The boy’s mother, Alexis Rigney, thanked her neighbors during the event at the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Administrative Offices.
She told reporters she had just left the boy alone for a few seconds to check on his sister when he took off for the pool.
“Xavier is my best friend, and I don’t know what I would do without him,” Rigney reportedly said through tears.
Westerhaus last received CPR training 15 years ago, according to the report.