Lifestyle & Human Interest

Officer Follows His Instincts and Saves Autistic Boy Drowning at Bottom of Pond


On Thursday morning, an officer in Independence, Missouri, proved his mettle after following his intuition and quickly locating a missing child under difficult circumstances.

The boy, a 10-year-old who has autism and is non-verbal, escaped from his driver on his way to school and took off into an abandoned area, right toward a pond.

He tore into the water, and then he disappeared.

Police got a call around 9:30 a.m. concerning the incident, and officer Dustin Stewart was on the scene within minutes.

He didn’t know exactly where the child was, but he followed his gut and went in immediately.

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“I jump in with him,” Stewart told WDAF-TV. “I feel around for a little bit, swim throughout the pond.”

“I eventually feel him against my leg. I reach down and pull him out.”

The boy had been underwater for three or four minutes, and when Stewart pulled him to the surface, he was unresponsive.

“He was not breathing,” Steward recalled. “He was blue. Soon as they started doing CPR, he was spitting up water.”

The child was transported to the hospital for further care. There has been no update on his condition, but the fact that he was found in the pond so quickly is miraculous.

“It doesn’t look deep at all,” Stewart said. “When you step in, you sink really fast. It’s like soft, soft mud.”

“After about 10 feet … you’re not touching.”

The boy’s mother, Malana Kielbowick, said that the driver should be held responsible since it’s known that the boy is prone to running off.

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“I keep padlocks on my doors,” Kielbowick explained. “Everything’s always supervised. … This is why I don’t like sending my kid to school.”

“I don’t think it really hit me yet because I think he’s doing OK. But still, the driver needs fired. They need to take consequences, and I’m here to tell my story.”

Many are calling Stewart a hero. While he’s thankful things turned out as they did, to him it’s all just part of a day’s work.

“I’m grateful,” he told KMBC-TV. “That’s what we come to do this job for, so it’s very rewarding.”

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