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The City of Lawrence, Kansas, honored a heroic father-and-son duo who saved a 4-year-old boy with autism from drowning in an apartment complex’s pool earlier this month.
The little boy, Xavier Rigney, briefly got out of his mother’s sight and somehow made his way through a locked fence before jumping into the pool.
“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, a paramedic who lost a child of his own in 2008, explained at a press conference. “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.”
Maddox Westerhouse, 12, saw Xavier drowning and ran to get his dad, Tom, from their nearby apartment.
“My friends were yelling at me to go get help and I just went like, ‘Oh no,’ and ran,” Maddox said.
Tom sprang into action, jumping the 6-foot fence then into the pool to pull Xavier out and start performing CPR.
“When he started to cough up water and everything, I knew that was a good sign,” Tom said, noting that he took a CPR course over 15 years ago but the training came back to him in the moment. “It definitely hits home a lot harder having a son myself.”
Xavier’s mother, Alexis, reunited with Tom and Maddox for the first time on Thursday and thanked them for their heroic actions.
“He’s my best friend so I don’t know what I would do without him,” Alexis said through tears.