A 12-year-old boy with autism who was chest-deep in a retention pond was rescued by two Columbus police officers who used specialized training to bring him to safety.
Caleb Arnold, who only speaks a little, was shaken up but didn’t have a scratch after the officers waded into the pond in the 5000 block of Victory Drive on the city’s northeast side at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, said his mother, Paula Arnold.
The officers, who had received training on interacting with people who have autism, asked the mother several important questions as they approached the boy in the water, including how he might respond to the volume of their voices and whether he would allow the officers to touch him.
Capt. Brian Wilder and officer Tony Kummer have Paula Arnold’s gratitude and respect for how they helped her son, she said.
“This is showing their dedication to keeping that boy safe, and keeping the whole community safe,” she said. “There are no words that I can use to say thanks other than to say that we need everyone to respect and be grateful to our police department.”
At about 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Columbus police were sent to the area of 25th Street and Lockerbie Drive about multiple reports of a child running near traffic, said Lt. Matt Harris, Columbus Police Department spokesman. Officers were notified a short time later that the boy had autism.
CPD Administrative Capt. Brian Wilder, who was off-duty, but near the area, went to the scene and saw the boy running towards a residential neighborhood, Harris said.
As officers arrived, the child entered a retaining pond near the 5000 block of Victory Drive, Harris said.
Wilder and Officer Tony Kummer entered the water with a flotation rescue rope and were able to bring the child safely out of the water unharmed. Columbus Police Department officers receive training each year on interacting with people who have autism, Harris said.
For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.