A heroic boy has saved his six-year-old cousin from drowning in a river in remote Western Australia.
Nine-year-old Leithan Till didn’t think twice as he dove into a fast-moving river to rescue his cousin, Jonathan, who was nearly drowning after falling into the water as he fell from a tree.
Jonathan’s family, who were about 50 metres away, could only watch as the horror unfolds. “[Jonathan] was floating down the river and we couldn’t run from where we were sitting because we were so far away,” Margaret Till told the ABC.
She said she then saw Leithan, who learned to swim at the Fitzroy Crossing Remote Aboriginal Swimming Pool, springing into action. “He jumped in and pulled him out from the river, and we were all shaking because we were thinking that he was going to drown,” she said, adding that had Leithan not taken the initiative, Jonathan could have been swept away.
Leithan’s adoptive mother, Katrain Cherel, is proud of his son, whose birth mother was killed in a car crash, and thanked the swimming centre for helping him learn to swim.
“When we asked him about [the rescue], he said he learnt about it when they were doing swimming lessons at school,” she said. “They learn how to not panic when they’re drowning. He said he was a bit scared to save him, but having the lessons and knowledge that he learned … he felt brave enough to save his cousin.”
Royal Lifesaving Association WA spokeswoman Lauren Nimmo commended the boy’s bravery and said the incident highlighted the importance of having lifesaving programs to be included in the school curriculum. “We’re pleased to see such a young boy, particularly in such a remote part of WA, using the skills he learnt as part of his swimming and water safety lessons,” she said.
The Swim and Survive program, which is a free program that has been running at Fitzroy Crossing pool since 2009, teaches children how to swim safely in surrounding waterways.