First responder dad springs into action to save son from pool

The video is prompting a pool safety reminder for parents ahead of summer.

May 23, 2023, 10:00 AM

A father sprang into action to save his 1-year-old son from drowning, prompting a pool safety reminder for parents ahead of summer.

Zachary Petite, a fire engineer and paramedic in Hemet, California, said he was tending to his other child when his toddler Cole jumped into the pool after he slipped off his life vest.

"I look over and I can't find him and I ended up seeing him sinking to the bottom of the pool," said Petite, who is a father of three.

The rescue was caught on camera and in a 40-second clip from the footage that was released by the Hemet Firefighters Association, Petite can be seen quickly rushing to the water's edge and pulling out his son, who was luckily unharmed.

PHOTO: Stock photo of a child learning to swim in a pool.
STOCK PHOTO/Getty Images

"I just went over there, scooped him out and got him out of the pool," Petite said.

Drowning is the no. 1 cause of death in kids ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adam Katchmarchi, the executive director of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance, said parents often have a false sense of security when it comes to using float devices such as the one Cole was wearing.

"So oftentimes, kids don't understand what that device is doing for them," Katchmarchi said. "Once that device was off, [Cole] didn't think twice about jumping back into the water."

According to the CDC, most pool drownings happen when parents are distracted or when kids gain unsupervised access. Experts at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance urge parents to adopt layers of protection around pools.

The five layers of protection include:

  • Use barriers, such as four-sided fences with self-closing and self-latching gates, and alarms to prevent unsupervised access.
  • Supervise water activity constantly.
  • Learn water competency and the skills needed to protect yourself and others in the water.
  • Wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.
  • Prepare for emergencies and learn CPR and basic water rescue skills.

Katchmarchi also suggested designating a rotating team of adult "water watchers" who can scan for distress when kids are in or near a pool.

"Oftentimes, the layers of protection can break down," he said. "So that's why we recommend a multitude of these layers working together to truly make the environment safer for young children."