- Xavier Rigney, 4, suddenly bolted out of their apartment and jumped into the deep part of a swimming pool.
- His 12-year-old neighbor alerted his dad, Tom Westerhaus, who was also a former lifeguard.
- He raced over to the pool and grabbed the boy before performing life-saving CPR.
A 4-year-old’s life was saved, thanks to a heroic neighbor who acted fast to save him from drowning.
Xavier Rigney, a 4-year-old boy with autism, suddenly sprinted out of their apartment and jumped into the fenced-in pool. His mother, Alexis Rigney, was inside their apartment, tending to his 4-month-old sister. She had no idea that her son would be able to get into the pool.
Thankfully, his 12-year-old neighbor, Maddox Westerhaus, spotted him flailing helplessly underwater. He ran to alert his dad, Tom Westerhaus.
Tom, who happens to be a former lifeguard, rushed over and jumped the fence. He plucked the boy out of the water and started performing chest compressions on the boy.
Little Xavier had already turned blue since he has been underwater for over 3 minutes, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Tom told KMBC, “He started to cough up water and everything I knew that was a good sign, and I just didn’t realize I had to keep going for so long.”
When Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Battalion Chief Rob Fleeup arrived at the scene minutes later, the boy regained consciousness and was breathing.
His mom broke down in tears when she learned what had happened.
The county held a ceremony to honor Tom and Maddox on Thursday. They were given certificates of heroism and coins for their life-saving actions.
Fleeup stated, “We’re very happy to celebrate this positive outcome because far too often, these stories do not have a positive outcome.”
The National Drowning Prevention Alliance cautioned everyone that someone can drown in as little as 30 seconds, but such a tragedy can be prevented through protection. They urged using layers of protection such as barriers and non-stop supervision, so that more lives can be saved.