Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Child With Autism Spectrum Disorder Jumps in River

A special needs child who jumped into the Red River was saved Tuesday thanks to some quick-thinking water taxi crews and a courageous cop.

But there's no happy ending for the autistic boy's mom, who says her son has been cast adrift by the province.

Noah Falk may not be aware of the commotion he caused at The Forks. The autistic 12-year-old suddenly abandoned his care giver, and jumped into the Red River.

"We threw him life rings from the shore line," said Gord Cartwright, the owner of Splash Dash Tour Boats.

"He won't take our hand, he won't take a life ring, he won't do anything but he's swimming and the currents taking him away right in the middle of the river," said Cartwright.

A jogger noticed the commotion and got into another boat.

"I hooked him once or twice but he was fighting it," said Barry Horan, who was jogging along The Forks walkway when he rushed to help.

When emergency crews arrived, Noah had already floated to the Provencher Bridge with the two tour boats by his side.

"We left one boat with him, a second boat my boat went off to the shoreline to pick up a police officer, he came onto our boat," said Cartwright.

"One of our officers then jumped in the water, grabbed the boy, from there they were able to hook onto the officer and the boy and bring him to one of the boats for safety," said Sergeant Ken Ehmann.

While the hero cop was sent to warm up, Noah was checked over in hospital and sent home.

His mother doesn't blame anyone, but fears it could happen again. Noah's autism makes his behaviour unpredictable and difficult to control, also adding to the difficulty of the situation, he does not speak.

"As grateful as I am for the people that helped, I'm really disheartened that this behaviour is returning, because we haven't seen it for about four and half years," said Kalyn Falk, Noah's mother.

Noah has had three years of specialized therapy but provincial funding ran out in June.

"He's losing his team and he's consultant so it's been a really hard summer for him because a lot of the things that were built in are gone," said Kalyn.

And without proper help, his mother losses sleep, worried about what will happen next.

"It's just a matter of time that someone isn't there at the right place," said Kalyn.

This story is from Winnipeg,Manitoba, Canada

We have two children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and live in Winnipeg.

The Red River is a very dangerous river that can suck even the best swimmers

under water.