Video: Hillsborough County deputies rescue non-verbal child with autism from pond

A 4-year-old boy is safe after he was rescued from a pond by Hillsborough County deputies.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says a concerned neighbor called 911 early Tuesday morning about a young child running across the street and into a nearby pond.

Deputies waded through deep, murky water and marshy weeds in a pond near Valleyridge Court.

They say they spotted the 4-year-old boy, who they later determined has autism and is nonverbal.


Deputies pulled the child from a pond in Hillsborough County. Image is courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

Body camera footage from one of the deputies shows them climbing through muddy water to try to reach the boy.

The sheriff’s office says the boy was being kept afloat by cattails in the pond.

READ: New Port Richey athlete with autism invited to run Boston Marathon

Thankfully, they were able to reach the boy, pull him out of the water and carry him to safety.

A scene like this one is a nightmare, especially for a parent with a child with autism.

READ: Rapper with autism hopes to inspire inclusion with music video

Brittany Collins has an eight-year-old son of her own who has autism. She founded the organization, "Amauri’s World", to raise awareness, connect families with a loved one with autism and guide them to resources in the community.


The 4-year-old rescued is non-verbal and has autism. Image is courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

"Kids with autism, adults with autism, they don't have a sense of danger," Collins said. "So what I've had to do is learn his cues, his mannerisms."

READ: St. Pete non-profit creates learning experience tailored to children with autism

Collins says she is constantly on high alert when she and her son, Amauri, go out.


A neighbor called 911 after spotting the child running across the street toward the pond. Image is courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

"With him being non-verbal, he is most of the time he's not he's not saying anything," Collins said. "He may make noise, but having a non-verbal child who may like to wonder it can happen even faster because you may not even hear them wander away."

READ: Autism screening company expands to Florida in bid to shorten wait times

She says she feels like her worries are even more heightened, and tries to take as many safety precautions as possible.

Collins says being around water with a child with autism can be particularly dangerous.


A deputies dries off the child after he was rescued from the pond. Image is courtesy of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. 

"Kids, with autism, with water, they are attracted to water because it is a sensory thing with them," Collins said. "It is calming to them. They like the sound of the water. They like how it looks, how it feels. So they go straight to the water, unfortunately."

HCSO deputies say the four-year-old boy who was rescued Tuesday is safe and was reunited with his family.