A SIX-year-old Opotiki boy who saved a toddler from a near-drowning at Whakatane’s Aquatic Centre last week went back to playing afterwards, not realising he had just saved a life, his mum says.
James Parson was at the pool on Thursday afternoon with his nine-year-old sister and mum, Christine Black, when a two-year-old child jumped into the big indoor pool close to where he was playing.
Mrs Black said she was sitting on the step seating watching her children when the event played out.
“We were sitting there at the pools when the toddler from the toddler pool just jumped right in front of my son in the deep pool.
“The next minute he was just going under and my son grabbed him, put his arm around him and swam with him to the side of the pool.”
Mrs Black said it took James about seven or eight seconds to swim to the side with the toddler in his arms.
“I was really surprised how quick James, you know, being a six-year-old, managed to grab him and swim and that is when we all came running over.
“He [the toddler] went right under and was looking up at my son to save him. James said he could see him going under and he looked quite surprised.”
Mrs Black said James went back to playing after the rescue. “He wasn’t aware he had just saved a life.”
She said the young boy’s mum was in the paddling pool with four other very young children and was not aware the toddler had run over to the big pool.
Another man sitting nearby also saw the rescue and praised James afterwards for his quick reaction.
“I started running to him as well and James was holding him because he couldn’t lift him up and I took him out of the water,” the man said.
However, the man, who did not wish to be named, said when he asked pool staff about recognising James’ efforts with a certificate of appreciation or something similar, he was told the acting manager or supervisor was away until this week and there was nothing they could do.
Mrs Black said James, although young, was capable in the water. “He can dive and do backstroke.”
But she said she was amazed that he knew to grab the boy. “I don’t know where it came from, because being a kid you just play, it is not your job to rescue people.”
She said she felt the lifeguards could have been more vigilant around the pool.
The man said he was also disappointed no one came to talk to them to find out what had happened.
Whakatane District Council general manager community services Mike Naude said there was no record of the incident.
But he said they applauded the efforts of James.
“He should be commended for his quick action. This highlights the importance of our policy that children eight years old and younger need to be actively supervised by a caregiver 16 years or older at all times.
“Active supervision means the caregiver needs to be within arm’s reach and able to respond at all times,” Mr Naude said.