Breaking News
More () »

Man jumps into action to save 4-year-old boy from drowning

Tom Westerhaus jumped a six-foot fence to get to the child and used hands-only CPR that he learned over 15 years ago to resuscitate him.
Credit: Lawrence Police

LAWRENCE, Kansas — A Kansas father is being called a "hero dad" for acting fast to save a 4-year-old boy from drowning in a pool. 

The entire rescue, which can only be described as dad reflexes in action, was caught on camera. 

It was around 7 p.m. Wednesday night when security cameras captured 4-year-old Xzavier Rigney, who has autism, falling into a pool at an apartment complex, after leaving home without his mother's knowledge. 

Officials said the preschooler was under for nearly 3 1/2 minutes. 

Maddox Westerhaus was playing outside with his friends when he saw Xzavier floating in the water. The 12-year-old quickly ran to get his dad, Tom. 

Tom jumped a six-foot fence to get to Xzavier and used hands-only CPR that he learned over 15 years ago to resuscitate him. 

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

He and his son's efforts were nothing short of lifesaving, first responders said.

"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. 

Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children between 1 and 4 years old, according to Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

And the risk of drowning for children like Xzavier who have autism is 10 times greater. 

"I just never thought that he'd be able to get into the pool or anything like that. Sorry," his mom Alexis said. 

Alexis, Xzavier, Tom and Maddox met Thursday morning for the first time since the incident. Alexis said she's forever grateful that two neighborhood heroes kept her baby alive. 

"He's my best friend, so I don't know what I would do without him," she said. 

Before You Leave, Check This Out