COLUMBUS, Ind. — A local mother is thankful for two officers whose training and quick action saved her son’s life. They rescued her son who has autism from a retention pond Sunday afternoon in Columbus.

Multiple neighbors called Columbus police saying they saw a boy walking near 25th Street and Lockerbie Drive with just his underwear on.

“Caleb found a new way to get out. He found to open up the window and kick out the screen,” mother, Paula Arnold said.

Paula was changing her clothes when her 12-year-old son Caleb got away and ended up in the retention pond. Off-duty Captain Brian Wilder and Officer Tony Kummer found Caleb quickly because of the community’s calls to 911. Right away, Officer Kummer said his yearly autism training through the department kicked in.

“Part of that training is how to deal with people that have autism so in my head I’m thinking maybe he doesn’t like to be touched, really loud sounds or siren for that case,” Officer Kummer said.

Officer Kummer spotted Caleb walking behind a home and that’s where he discovered the retention pond. He says the key was not to scare Caleb even if that meant letting him go into the water instead of yelling at him to stop.

“Captain Wilder and I went into the water. We both made contact with Caleb at the same time we were able to grab him and pull him out to shore and everything went as well as it could have,” Officer Kummer said.

“Both officers treated him with such compassion. I hate to say it I don’t if any other police officer without the training might have been a little more aggressive,” Paula said.

Caleb was unharmed and is back safely with his mom, who’s very thankful for a community of officers that knew just what do.

“Because they used no excessive force and he came out with not an injury so I’m very happy and very blessed,” Paula said.

Paula also wants to thank everyone who picked up the phone and called 911. She says this story could also inspire others to get training on how to interact with someone who has autism.


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