‘It's That Fast': Hemet Firefighter Who Rescued Son From Pool Has Warning for Parents

“It's that fast. It’s silent and somebody needs to be present at all times,” Zachary Petite said

NBC Universal, Inc.

A Hemet firefighter, who went viral when home surveillance video showed him diving to the rescue of his toddler after he fell into a pool, is speaking out with a warning to fellow parents.

Zachary Petite was in his backyard when his 18-month-old son, Cole, slid into the family’s backyard swimming pool, just seconds after taking off his life jacket.

“I just noticed that he’s falling into the pool and then sinking straight down to the bottom,” Petite recalled.

Petite immediately dove to the edge of the pool and quickly pulled out the boy before tragedy could strike.

"Any parent put in my situation would have reacted the same way,” Petite said.

Petite, who has had skin cancer three different times, believes Cole took the life vest off because he had told his children to get out of the pool to apply sunscreen.

He said he didn’t have to share the video on social media, but after responding as a firefighter to several drowning calls in his career, he wanted parents to see it.

With Memorial Day weekend underway, Petite is hoping parents will understand how important it is to designate an adult as a "water watcher" during pool parties involving children who aren't strong swimmers.

At his house, Petite has a pool fence and security cameras that alert the family’s devices when someone is in the pool. Yet, those things weren’t a substitute for him remaining vigilant while his children swam.

“It's that fast. It’s silent and somebody needs to be present at all times,” Petite stressed.

Capt. David Prietto, president of the Hemet City Firefighter's Association union, noted that if tragedy could have struck “one of our own people,” it could happen to anybody.

Fire officials say that, no matter if a child is swimming in a pool or some other body of water, parents should choose bright-colored swim clothing to more easily be able to spot trouble, as well as learn CPR.

Most of all, they should remain vigilant when kids are swimming.

“Without being an arm’s reach away, it could have been a difference between planning a funeral or not,” Petite said.

Contact Us