Alexis Rigney says her neighbor is a hero after he rescued her 4-year-old son, Xzavier, from drowning.
Rigney, 22, says that she was comforting her infant daughter on May 18, when Xzavier, who has autism and is non-verbal, wandered outside to their apartment complex pool.
Brave Stranger Rescues 4-Year-Old Boy From Drowning In A Pool
“Somehow he got past the locked gates,” Rigney told TODAY Parents, sharing that Xzavier has “always been attracted to water,” but is not a strong swimmer.
In the surveillance video, Xzavier is seen taking one step into the pool before he’s completely submerged. He attempts to pull himself up but to no avail. Just minutes later, neighbor Tom Westerhaus appears in the frame and is shown giving CPR to the little boy, who officials say had been underwater for three minutes and 22 seconds.
“I think it’s important to note that we edited the video because it’s very disturbing to watch, but it’s also important to note that Mr. Westerhaus continued compressions for a little more than two and a half minutes,” a spokesperson for the City of Lawrence Police, Laura McCabe, shared with the outlet.
All it took was one distracted moment and this 4-year-old slipped out of his apartment and into the pool. He was under for more than 3 minutes until a hero jumped in to save him. Full story to come. pic.twitter.com/N1AQiLZTbj— TODAY Parents (@TODAY_Parents) May 31, 2022
“Xzavier was showing no signs of life, was literally blue in color from the lack of oxygen, and Mr. Westerhaus did not give up. I hope people realize how long that is to work on a child with very few signs of it making a difference. As you can see in the video, the little boy eventually started coughing and breathing,” McCabe added.
The Topeka Capital-Journal shared that Westerhaus’s 12-year-old son, Maddox, noticed Xzavier was in trouble and ran to his dad. Westerhaus, a former lifeguard, then jumped the fence, pulled Xzavier out of the pool, and began performing life-saving chest compressions.
A few moments after Rigney noticed that Xzavier was gone, she heard sirens and looked outside.
“I started crying and screaming hysterically,” she said. “I couldn’t hear him crying over all the noise. He wasn’t moving.”
Had it not been for Westerhaus, Rigney said she is certain Xzavier would have died. “I don’t know what I would do without him,” she shared through tears.
In the two weeks since the terrifying incident, Rigney has installed alarms on the doors in her apartment. She said Xzavier is “doing great” and has made a full recovery.
“We’re very proud of Maddox and Tom and their heroic efforts with an extraordinary outcome, and thrilled that telling this story will help raise awareness about the importance of water safety,” McCabe said.
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you’re looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.
Mamas Uncut is THE online place for moms. We cover the latest about motherhood, parenting, and entertainment as well – all with a mom-focused twist. So if you're looking for parenting advice from real parents, we have plenty of it, all for moms from moms, and also experts. Because, at the end of the day, our mission is focused solely on empowering moms and moms-to-be with the knowledge and answers they’re looking for in one safe space.