4-year-old boy saved from drowning after 12-year-old alerts his dad to save him

First responders say boy was under water for 3 minutes, 22 seconds

A child was credited with helping save the life of a Kansas boy, alerting his dad when he saw a 4-year-old unresponsive in a pool.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical and the Lawrence Police Department said on May 18, first responders were made aware of a drowning call at an apartment complex.

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Officials said that 12-year-old Maddox Westerhaus had noticed a child unresponsive and floating in the complex pool. He immediately made his father, Thomas Westerhaus, aware.

“Definitely hits home harder, having a son myself and everything,” Westerhaus said. “Glad everything turned out the way it did.”

Thomas Westerhaus jumped the locked fence outside the pool, pulled 4-year-old Xzavier Rigney from the water and performed chest compressions for longer than two minutes. The boy began to cry and was breathing when paramedics responded to the scene.

First responders said Xzavier was under the water for three minutes and 22 seconds.

“Anything can happen, anything can happen in a matter of minutes,” said Xzavier’s mother Alexis, who was caring for her other child when he walked outside. “He just didn’t know any better. He just likes to swim, you know.”

The agencies awarded Maddox and Thomas with certificates in recognition of their life-saving efforts.

Alexis Rigney, Xzavier’s mother, attended the ceremony and was moved to tears when recalling the event.

“I’m just glad that he’s OK now,” she said. “He’s my best friend, so I don’t know what I’d do without him.”

The Lawrence Douglas County Fire Medical and the Lawrence Police Department held the news conference in the ceremony to raise awareness for water safety, especially with children during the summer months.