Parents of boy rescued from the St. Joseph River speak out

 Xavier Harvey
Xavier Harvey (WNDU)
Published: Jul. 2, 2017 at 7:35 PM EDT
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The parents of a South Bend boy

spoke to NewsCenter 16’s Joshua Short.

They wanted to thank all of the men and women responsible for helping to find, locate and save their son, Xavier Harvey.

“I let go of his hand…and he took off,” said Nicole Willard, Xavier’s mother as she replayed the moments leading up to Friday’s rescue.

She was taking her son, who has autism, to a music therapy session when her youngest son began crying. As she turned and tended to him, Xavier ran off.

“That was the last time we’d see him,” Willard said before discovering he ran into the St. Joseph River, nearly a half-mile from where Xavier ran off.

Along with being autistic, the 5-year-old also has ADHD, according to his parents. This is what they believe caused their son to run such a long distance in such a short period of time.

“He got on scene, assessed the situation and just jumped right in,” said Michael Willard, Xavier’s father, about the responding officer, Reid Spitaels who helped rescue his child.

“That to me is not just a hero, but a superhero…a real life super hero,” he added.

This contradicted what Officer Spitaels told NewsCenter 16 a day after he rescued the 5-year-old.

"I don't consider myself a hero. It's just part of the job, you know,” said Spitaels, holding back tears.

Both parents say their son received some swimming lessons and attributed this as to why he stayed afloat until officers arrived.