One Moore family is calling an elementary school principal "Hero" after he rescued a special needs student who almost drowned this week. The child with autism ran away from Plaza Towers Elementary School during recess, but the principal caught up to him in the nick of time.
The harrowing scene could have had a much more tragic outcome but instead the child's family and administrators at Plaza Towers are learning a valuable lesson.
Melissa Morgan says her son Jameston loves the outdoors.
“Self-contained adventurer is probably how I’d describe him,” she says. “He likes to just explore.”
During Tuesday’s recess at Plaza Towers, the special needs class was playing near an opening in the fence when Jameston decided to take off towards the drainage ditch at the back of the property. Morgan explains, “If there’s an open field he’d like to see what’s on the other side of it.”
“He’s pretty fast,” adds principal Patrick Chase, “so he got around the corner and (teachers) went after him, but he had a pretty good head start on them so they called me.”
Chase lived up to his name, leaving lunch duty to run into the neighborhood nearby to try to head off Jameston's adventure. That is when he saw the boy take the leap into a pool of standing water that leads into a lake.
Chase says, “I don’t know if the water was cold or if it was because of the shock, but I noticed he opened his mouth. He took in a lot of water.”
Jameston then disappeared from sight, and Chase jumped down to the water bank to go after him.
“He popped up gasping for air,” says Chase, “and I just grabbed him with my arm, yanked him out, and we went over to the side.”
Jameston swallowed some water, but is otherwise okay. He was taken to an urgent care clinic for an X-ray to check his lungs.
Morgan admits her son has a fascination with water, and she has had a hard time finding swimming lessons for kids with special needs. She says this was a wake-up call for her to better recognize when Jameston is feeling the need to explore.
“He was actually super happy and calm,” she said of the ride home after the incident. “I think that maybe he just needed to get a nice, good run and adventure.”
Chase and his administrative team are now evaluating security protocol at the school, and they are considering adding another layer of fencing to prevent incidents like this in the future.