Thacher School senior Tom Bray said a last-minute rush of adrenaline gave him the strength to pluck an unconscious 10-year-old Ojai boy from a drainage pipe at the edge of a rushing creek near Ojai.
Bray arrived at the scene where Simon Cranes nearly drowned Friday afternoon while three women were lifting his head out of the waist-high water and trying to resuscitate him.
"The current was really strong, and all the water was rushing in there and they couldn't pull him out," Bray said.
Bray jumped into the water, wrapped his arms around Simon's chest and tried to yank the boy from the metal pipe. "I was pulling, and he wouldn't come out and I just kept pulling and he finally came.
"I had so much adrenaline going through me, it made me think of the stories where mothers push over cars and stuff to save their children," Bray said. "It was insane stuff. I just hope the guy is OK."
Simon remained in very serious condition Friday night at Valley Presbyterian Hospital in Van Nuys, a nursing supervisor said.
The near-drowning occurred about 1:25 p.m. in a creek in Horn Canyon, east of Ojai, on the grounds of Thacher School.
Authorities and witnesses said they had no idea how the boy became trapped by the water rushing into the pipe. Simon had apparently been underwater for some time before he was discovered, authorities said.
Bray was in his dormitory room when he heard someone calling 911, he said. The passerby who was making the call told him what had happened and drove Bray and his friends to the trail into Horn Canyon. He and his friends ran about three-quarters of a mile to the creek, said Bray, who is on the school's cross-country team.
"When I got there he was completely blue, unconscious and not breathing," said Bray, who has no rescue training.
Normally, the creek in that area is very shallow, Bray said, "but all the rain and stuff made the current pretty strong."
Simon's father was with his son's class from San Antonio Elementary School in Ojai when the accident occurred, said Joe DeVito, San Antonio's principal. "It was an authorized field trip," DeVito said.
A teacher and several parents took about 30 schoolchildren on an outing to study geology and other subjects, DeVito said. He did not know what Simon was doing in the creek.