EAST KINGTON – David Towse experienced every parent's worst nightmare Wednesday when his 1 1/2-year-old son, Bradley, got out of his sight and fell into Powwow Pond.
The toddler nearly drowned, but Towse's quick action saved the boy's life and the family from unimaginable heartache.
"If he hadn't come back I don't know what I would have done. I can't fathom what these people whose kids die in a swimming pool have to go through if they didn't catch them in time," said Towse, who pulled his son's limp body from the pond and performed CPR before police and emergency medical personnel arrived.
Little Bradley slipped away just before 11:30 a.m. after his dad came in from taking the trash out and forgot to flip a safety lock at the top of the door at their home at 23 Cove Road.
The boy was sitting on the couch watching TV with his sister, Bailey, almost 3, but got up and opened the door while his father was washing dishes.
Towse said he believes Bradley tripped and fell on the dock directly behind their home and then rolled into the pond.
"There was this uncomfortable quiet. I turned around and he wasn't on the couch and then I looked through the window and he was right there floating in the water," Towse said.
Towse raced out onto the dock and pulled Bradley out of the water by his foot. The toddler, who is believed to have been in the water for about 30 seconds, was unconscious and appeared to have water in his lungs.
A frantic Towse rushed him into the house and placed the boy's stomach on his leg and pushed on his chest to try to get the water out of his lungs. He then began performing CPR.
Towse said he's not sure how much water, if any, was expelled, but soon his son's eyes opened and he began crying.
His sister was standing and watching the rescue.
"When his eyes popped open she was like, 'Yeah!'"
Towse said it was as if Bradley was in the "state of a vegetable."
"He would open his eyes and move his head around a little bit, but he couldn't move his arms or legs," he said, adding that he had to "keep yelling at him about every 20 seconds to wake up."
As soon as Bradley regained consciousness, Towse called 911. He said his first instinct was to call 911, but he felt he had to do whatever he could immediately to save his son.
Rescue personnel soon arrived and Bradley was rushed to Exeter Hospital. Because of the water in his lungs, he was later sent to Children's Hospital in Boston where he'll spend tonight just in case there are any complications, Towse said.
Towse said he believes his son will be OK and didn't suffer any permanent damage. By the time he arrived at the emergency room he had to be strapped in his car seat because he wouldn't sit still, he said.
Police Chief Reid Simpson said the outcome could have been worse if Towse had not found him right away.
"I'm sure if the child was in the water longer it had the potential to be a tragedy. With summer coming people need to be cognizant of their surroundings, especially with water safety," Simpson said.
Towse now plans to put sensors on his doors that will sound an alarm whenever a door opens to prevent a tragedy in the future.
Any parent knows how quickly children can slip away and find themselves in trouble, and Towse learned that lesson today.