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Archive for Tuesday, May 4, 1999

STRANGER PULLED BOY, STEPDAD BACK FROM BRINK

May 4, 1999

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A North Lawrence couple hopes a stranger who helped save their 6-year-old son will step forward so they can thank him.

With all the enthusiasm of a 6-year-old, Aaron Bahm on Monday hurriedly peddled his bicycle home from school, glad to be done with classes for the day and glad to be alive.

Aaron on Sunday fell into the Kansas River, and his mother and stepfather want to thank a stranger for lending a helping hand.

Aaron's family lives in North Lawrence, just a short walk from the river.

"We take the kids there all the time," said Aaron's stepfather, Rick Freeman. "We watch the carp in the canal try to swim upstream."

About 3 p.m. Sunday, the family ventured down to its vantage point on the northeast side of the Kansas River bridge. Aaron was standing along the bank when the bank gave way.

The murky water claimed the bank and almost claimed the first-grader.

"His head was bobbing in and out and in and out," his mother, Anne Freeman said.

Rick Freeman jumped in the cold water to grab Aaron. A man standing nearby saw Freeman jump in, and "he reached down and grabbed a hold of my son and pulled my son out of the water," Anne Freeman said.

Then he helped Rick Freeman.

Aaron was pretty shook up about the accident, Anne Freeman said.

"My son was hysterical, and I was screaming and crying," she said.

After the accident, the family walked home. Aaron and his stepfather enjoyed warm baths.

Then Aaron was ready to hit the sidewalk on his bicycle again.

"I had a good day," he exclaimed on Monday when he got home from Woodlawn School, just a few scratches showing from his accident.

When he woke up Monday in his mom and stepfather's bed, he said, "Mommy, me and daddy almost drowned in the river, and daddy jumped in and saved me," Anne Freeman said.

Daddy and a stranger, that is -- and the Freemans hope to hear from him soon so they can extend their gratitude.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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