INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An alert witness and emergency crews helped save a child’s life in Independence Thursday morning, according to police.

Officers responded to the former Rockwood Country Club around 9:30 a.m. The country club, located near South Westport Road and South Hardy Avenue, is permanently closed.

The caller told dispatchers that an elementary school-aged child fell into a pond on the property.

Underwater for 3-4 minutes, the young child struggled to survive while submerged in the pond, cold and muddy.

And that drowning would have been fatal if not for the work of an Independence police officer, pulling the child from the muck.

The child wasn’t breathing, but emergency responders preformed CPR, according to a spokesperson for the police department. The child began breathing before emergency crews transported him to a hospital.

Police have not released an update on the child’s condition.

Independence police said the 10-year-old child ran from his transportation to school and went into the water, which is much deeper than it looks.

“It doesn’t look deep at all. When you step in, you sink really fast. It’s like soft soft mud. But after about 10 feet out — we were probably about 20 feet out — after about 10 feet you’re not touching,” Officer Dustin Stewart said.

An officer’s instincts

It’s hard to say if the child would have survived much longer had the officer not found him when he did. He’s now being lauded as a hero following Thursday morning’s rescue.

Stewart said it’s not a normal event for Independence police, but when he rolled up to the area — now a solar farm with standing water features — he worked off instinct.

“At that time I pulled up, exited my vehicle and I jump in with him. I feel around for a little bit, swim throughout the pond — she kind of gave us an idea of where he’s at. I eventually feel him against my leg. I reach down and pull him out,” Stewart said.

“He wasn’t breathing. He was blue. As soon as they started doing CPR, he was spitting up water,” Stewart said.

Police are not saying which school this student attends or what led to the incident. A driver and school resource officer were also a part of the water rescue search.

Boy’s mother speaks out

Thursday afternoon FOX4 spoke to the mother of the child. Malana Kielbowick said her 10-year-old son is non-verbal autistic.

Kielbowick also said that he’s prone to run, and his transportation worker should have known that.

“I keep padlocks on my doors. Everything’s always supervised, and this is why I didn’t even like sending my kid to school,” she said. “And now I don’t think it really hit me yet ’cause I think he’s doing OK. Still the driver needs to be fired. There needs to be consequences, and I’m here to tell my story.”

FOX4 did reach out to the child’s school for comment but have not yet received a response.

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