Nampa mom urges pool safety after son's near drowning

Posted at 10:39 PM, Jun 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-09 00:39:54-04
On June 3rd of last year, Maria Avalos was at work after dropping off her two-year-old son Santi at her brother-in-law's house when she received some terrible news. 
"I had a police officer come in and he had asked me if I could go with him. He just said something happened to my son, but he didn't know what had happened to him," said Avalos.
Santi was in the living room watching TV when the man who was watching him got up for just a moment to use the restroom. 
In that time, Santi had slipped out the back door and was found lying face down in the swimming pool.
Officer Brad Childers of the Nampa Police Department was the first to arrive on scene. 
"When a call like that comes over the radio and references a child, it sinks you at first," said Childers. "The boy seemed lifeless so I assisted in doing CPR and life-saving measures until the paramedics arrived."
Santi was rushed to the hospital where a medical team did everything they could to save the little boy. 
"He was hooked up to so many machines and I just wanted to grab him and hold him but I couldn't. I was just there staring. Even then I didn't know if he was alive. I was just looking at him," said Avalos.
Now, more than a year has passed since that tragic day. After months of rehabilitation and having to relearn everything, Santi can nearly crawl again.
"He's doing pretty great. He is learning to talk. He has probably over 50 words," said Avalos.
While it's unclear exactly how much more progress Santi will make, Avalos said he seems to heal a little bit every day.
Just this past week, Avalos made a video of Santi's progress and sent it to Officer Childers and the Nampa Police Department thanking them for helping save her little boy.
"When I saw it for the first time I couldn't finish it," said Childers. "I don't know how to put into words how it makes you feel to be recognized."
Maria now wants to use her experience as a warning to other parents. 
"I don't think any parent expects this. You just never know what can happen. You have to teach them about safety near water."
"I think the best thing that a parent can do as far as a child around any type of water would be education. Let them know the best as you can about the dangers of water, and then teaching them to swim at a very young age," explained Officer Childers. 
Last September Officer Childers was awarded a life medal for his actions that helped save the life of Santi.