A mother expressed heartfelt gratitude to the police officer who rescued her 4-year-old child from a pond during a Wednesday press conference.
Jaclyn Hamby spoke during a Wednesday morning press conference held by the Topeka Police Department with Officer Aaron Bulmer, three days after Bulmer made the rescue that was recorded on his body-worn camera.
Bulmer said he places no blame on the boy’s parents for the incident.
“I understand we’re human, and I don’t fault the parents at all,” Bulmer said.
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Hamby said her son, Elijah, recovered enough to attend school this week.
“I don’t think words could describe how thankful we are that (Bulmer) was there at that time,” Hamby said.
Hamby said Elijah, who is autistic, and his father were at home Sunday when the father had to use the bathroom. Hamby said the father ensured the doors were locked and the boy was occupied with TV, but 10 minutes later the father found the back door open and Elijah missing from the home.
“He is a very intellectual child, but as far as social interactions and dangers — I don’t think he’s fully able to comprehend the dangers (of the pond),” Hamby said.
Bulmer’s camera captured the moments leading up to and during the rescue. Bulmer exits his vehicle and sprints toward the pond, where Elijah is flailing a few feet from the bank. Bulmer grabs the boy and hands him to a civilian on the scene to help.
Bulmer, breathing heavily and over the boy’s cries, says Elijah almost drowned on the recording.
“This is one of those things that could happen to any of us,” Bulmer said at the press conference. “I know coming home from work, I’m exhausted. I could fall asleep on the couch and my young one can unlock the door to get outside.”
As the conference ended, Bulmer patted Hamby on the back and then the two embraced.
“I’m grateful everything turned out the way it did,” Hamby said. “It could have been a lot worse.”