Boy’s life ‘best reward’
Saturday, 22nd October, 2011
By Darrin Manuel
Ron Butcher isn’t the type of bloke who would consider himself a hero, but it’s hard to describe him in any other way after he helped save the life of a drowning child.
The 60-year-old former miner was a key figure in efforts to save a seven-year-old boy who almost died at the Aquatic Centre on Thursday afternoon.
The boy, who was at the pool for a friend’s party, was found floating face down in the 50-metre pool by Ron’s wife, Lynette.
The couple had been sitting on the side of the pool with their grandchildren when Lynette saw the boy and quickly pulled him to safety.
“It all happened very quickly. The wife noticed him and jumped in and dragged him out. She’s a better swimmer than me,” said Mr Butcher.
He immediately began CPR on the unconscious child and later received support from another bystander he described as a “bloody good Samaritan”, and a female lifesaver.
He said it was a difficult situation and he thanked those who helped him work on the boy until emergency services crews arrived.
“I wouldn’t recommend anyone being in that situation. You get tired so quick,” he said.
“I wouldn’t even be able to say how long I was at it. I asked myself that this morning, but it felt like an eternity.
“There was another bloke there and he gave me a spell, and then the young (lifeguard) gave him a spell and we all just rotated.
“When he came around I just said ‘thank God for that’ ... you’d never get over it.”
Mr Butcher reserved special praise for the lifeguard who attended the boy, and said she had shown maturity far beyond her years in dealing with the emergency.
“She did a tremendous job. She was only a slip of a girl, and only very young, but she didn’t shirk the issue.”
The near-tragedy is a solemn reminder for all families as summer approaches to ensure every precaution is taken when children are around water.
“It’s a wake up call for everyone to be pretty vigilant around Christmas - at least this kid will get a Christmas,” said Mr Butcher.
Although he hasn’t caught up with the family since the incident, he said he had inquired at the hospital to ensure the boy had pulled through.
“I went up yesterday and went to emergency and asked about him but they were pretty careful about giving out details and I didn’t let on who I was,” he said.
“But they said that he was doing alright and that was good enough for me.
“It’s a very good ending, the kid has got a life. It’s a good Christmas present for the family.”
The boy’s family was extremely grateful for Mr Butcher’s efforts, and his mother contacted the BDT yesterday and expressed her thanks to everyone who helped save her son’s life.
“We’d just like to thank the gentleman for his help and doing what he did, and everyone else who was involved; ambulance staff, hospital staff, police - there was a lot of people,” she said.
“And we just wanted to let everyone to know that Owen is OK and he’ll be out playing cricket in the morning... thank goodness it all turned out the way it did.”
Police Crime Manager Mick Stoltenberg described the outcome as “very, very lucky”, and said staff had been discussing recommending Mr Butcher for an award from the Royal Lifesaving Society.
He said that the boy was eating and was expected to make a full recovery. Police investigations into the incident are continuing.
Meanwhile City Council released a statement acknowledging the efforts of the public during the emergency, and said an internal review would be conducted.