Fast-thinking Dad Jumps Fence To Save 4-Year-Old From Drowning

A Kansas father earned the title of “hero dad” for taking quick action to save a 4-year-old boy from drowning in a pool.

The camera captured the entire rescue.

On May 18, 2021, at around 7 p.m., surveillance footage captured the moment an autistic 4-year-old named Xzavier Rigney slipping into a swimming pool at an apartment complex after leaving home without his mother’s knowledge.

According to officials, the preschooler was underwater for almost 3 1/2 minutes.

When playing outside with his pals, Maddox Westerhaus noticed Xzavier floating in the water. The 12-year-old quickly found his father, Tom.

Tom reached Xzavier by leaping over a six-foot fence, performing hands-only CPR he had learned more than 15 years before.

“Definitely hits home a lot harder having a son myself and everything,” Tom said of the rescue.

First responders praised him and his son’s actions as nothing short of lifesaving.

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“We feel confident we would not be standing here today if it were not for the actions of Mr. Tom Westerhaus and his son Maddox,” said Rob Fleeup, the battalion chief for Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical. 

According to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, drowning is the leading cause of accidental fatality for children between the ages of 1 and 4 years old.

Additionally, autistic kids like Xzavier are 10 times more likely to drown.

“I just never thought that he’d be able to get into the pool or anything like that. Sorry,” his mom Alexis said. Alexis expressed her forever gratitude to the two local heroes who helped keep her kid alive.

“He’s my best friend, so I don’t know what I would do without him,” she said.