15-year-old speaks up after saving toddler's life at 5 Mile Recreation Area

Jun 23, 2014 7:21 PM by Brian Johnson

A 15-year-old Chico high-schooler is warning parents to keep an eye on their children near water, no matter how shallow.
These words come from Zach Ausland after he heroically rescued a toddler from drowning in Big Chico Creek last Thursday afternoon.
Ausland and Carson Tosi are best friends.
Now soon-to-be sophomores at Chico High School, they've known each other since they were four, and spend lots of their summer vacation time at 5 Mile Recreation Area in Chico.
"We were just kind of hanging around all day, just swimming around and stuff," said Tosi.
Tosi is talking about last Thursday afternoon, before a third party joined their game of catch in Big Chico Creek.
"I was swimming under water with my goggles and I bumped into a kid," said Zach Ausland, who guessed the boy was around four or five. "And I didn't really notice anything at first...I thought he was just messing around, floating there."
The two friends kept playing, until Ausland went underwater again.
This time, he was amazed how a little boy could still be holding his breath.
But he wasn't.
And he was now lying deeper in the creek's relatively shallow waters.
"I'm thinking something's wrong so I picked him up and right as I picked him up, water rushed out of his nose and mouth," Ausland said.
"It was kind of scary because I didn't know if he was dead or not. Because he looked pretty bad...scary."
Ausland said the boy was pale, with purplish-blue lips and hands.
"If Zach hadn't come across the boy in the water, I don't think he'd be here today, so it's a pretty big deal," said Zach's mom, Becky Ausland.
Becky Ausland rolled the boy on his side and patted his back onshore, and said the little' boy's eyes were blank.
Another man came and patted harder as the boy spit up more water and started crying.
Zach and his mom said the boy's mom eventually showed up, clueless as to what had happened.
While Ausland said he's no hero, the strong swimmer and alert young man sounded older than his years as he passed along advice for parents.
"No matter how deep the water is, they should be keeping an eye on their kids," Ausland said. "Lifejackets...just keep their kids safe, keep them in their eyes."
Ausland said firefighters have told him he did a good thing and were proud.
He's expected to get an official recognition by the Chico Fire Department soon.


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