A Kansas cops is being praised after rescuing a 4-year-old boy with autism from a cold pond in Topeka on Sunday.
“That could have been my young one,” Officer Aaron Bulmer said of the incident during a Wednesday news conference. “It could’ve been my kid.”
Bulmer said he was responding to another call at around 11:30 a.m. when he saw the little boy walking towards a pond near the Central Park Community Center. He said he continued driving to get a better view of the child and “felt the intuition or God’s calling that I needed to get out of my car.”
“I started to walk towards the pond … then I saw a small hand flailing,” he said. “I saw him gasping for air, heard him gasping for air. I saw his face in the water and without any reaction I just jumped in. It’s not anything I thought about … I needed to do this.”
Footage of the incident, captured by Bulmer’s body cam, showed the officer approaching the pond as the little boy, named Elijah, appeared to struggle in the water. He jumped into the pond and the child was soon in his arms.
Bulmer said a man walking by helped as he left the pond to call an ambulance. Nearby, the child’s father was looking for Elijah, Bulmer added. The two were reunited as the boy was being treated in an ambulance.
“When I came to find out later that he had autism it really struck me,” the officer said at the news conference. “It was one of those things that I need to educate myself more about.”
The child’s mother was at the news conference on Monday, and said that Elijah is “doing great” after the incident.
She said she and her four other children were not home at the time of the incident, noting that the child’s father was caring for the little boy. She said the man was in the bathroom for just 10 minutes before coming out and realizing that Elijah had left the house through the back door.
“I’m very grateful that everything turned out the way that it did. Because things could have been way worse,” she said.
“I don’t think enough words, actions or anything would possibly be able to describe how thankful or grateful that we are that [Bulmer] was in that place at that time.”