APOLLO BEACH, Fla. -- Hillsborough County deputy Efrain Taveras, a 12-year veteran, is being called a hero by a local family.
Zachary Durante, 9, who has autism, ran away from his home in Apollo Beach, Monday evening. His father says he’s done this in the past, where he runs to a nearby pond.
“It's been a thing for the past 7 years and it's no less terrifying then from the first time it's happened,” says Shawn Durante, Zachary’s father.
Deputy Taveras found Zachary, who doesn’t know how to swim, in a nearby pound.
Taveras was on one side of the pond and his father was on the other when Zachary started struggling.
“At one point, he went under. That's when I pulled off my belt and went in and he went down a second time. That's when I was able to grab a hold of him and pull him out,” says Taveras.
Taveras has responded to several calls with Zachary before but says this time he says it was different.
“We hear a lot about there is no fear in a child, there is no fear. At that moment, I saw and experienced wow they don't know what danger is,” he says.
Taveras and Zachary's father, Shawn, want the community to know, they also need to be vigilant if they see a child alone near a pond. Kids with autism are drawn to water.
“People just sit there and they watch. It should literally be Is there any way I can help?” says Shawn.
Although Taveras doesn't consider himself a hero, Zachary's family does.
"I put the uniform on and do what i need to do." says Taveras.
Zackery received his SafetyNet tracking bracelet from grant money given to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Department a few years back.
If you would like to enroll your loved one in the SafetyNet program, click or tap here.
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