It was an emotional reunion Thursday for two Alberta families.
Plenty of tears, hugs and a heartfelt thank-you from Melanie Drake to 11-year-old Austin Loiseau.
It’s the first time they’ve seen each other since Tuesday, when a relaxing summer day at Rotary Park in Whitecourt, Alta., took a terrifying turn.
Drake was at the park with her four kids, including her five-year-old, Bo.
At one point, he wandered into the water and quickly started to struggle.
“He was going under the water a lot,” Austin said. “I came to realize he was not moving.”
Austin was floating nearby. When he saw what was happening, he jumped in to help Bo — carrying him to the shore.
“He may die if I don’t hurry up,” Austin recalls thinking at the time.
Austin’s mom, Lysa Loiseau, said her son came running up to her minutes later telling her what had just happened.
“A little while later I had seen Melanie with her son over by our picnic tables, calling 911, and I kind of put two and two together,” Lysa said.
“In the blink of an eye, I had a lady carrying Bo, looking for me,” Drake explained.
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“Once I got a hold of him, he was blue — vomiting water.”
Drake didn’t know about Austin’s heroic actions until the next day when she posted a public thank-you on Facebook to everyone who helped that day.
Lysa responded, letting her know it was Austin who pulled Bo out.
“For an 11-year-old to do what he did — I have no words. I have so much gratitude, and so much praise and love,” Drake said.
Lysa praised her son for his quick thinking and bravery.
“So proud of him for jumping into action — out of character,” she said.
“Any other day he would have went away to somewhere quieter.”
That’s because Austin has autism, and according to his mom, when things get too busy and chaotic for him, he’ll try to find a more peaceful place — which is also why he was floating on the pond instead of playing in the park.
“If it wasn’t for that boy, I wouldn’t have mine today,” Drake said through tears.
Everyone involved knows how quickly this could have turned tragic.
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It’s been a deadly summer on the water in Alberta with 15 drownings across the province.
It’s a stark reminder about the importance of water safety.
“We’re going to be smarter. We’re going to do things a little bit better,” Drake said.
“Definitely rethinking stuff because anything can happen in a moment,” Lysa added.
As for Bo, he’s doing well — a big credit to Austin, for giving him a second chance.
“He’s my angel. He’s Bo’s angel. He’s a true blessing in life,” Drake said.
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