Back in December, 34-year-old Srinivasa Yalavarthi of Chicago was enjoying a visit with his relatives in Eagan. He waded with friends in the pool at Town Center apartments when, without anyone realizing it, he slipped toward the deep end. Yalavarthi couldn’t swim, and the water was eight feet deep.
Only a few people standing nearby noticed a man sitting on the bottom of the pool, in mortal danger. Raghu Nandikotkur, a man who lived in the building, tried to use a life ring to rescue Yalavarthi, but he couldn’t swim either. Of the few bystanders, only one person could. That was Raghu’s son: a 70-pound, 11-year-old boy named Advaik.
Advaik’s training consisted of lessons from Aqua-Tots Swim School in town, which he’d received a few years earlier after his family had emigrated from India. His parents describe him as a “shy,” but “mentally strong” kid. Advaik’s mother turned to him and told him to jump in.
“So I just obeyed,” he later explained.
The boy had his doubts. The drowning man was 100 pounds heavier than him, and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to pull him to the surface. But he grabbed Yalavarthi’s arm and swam as hard as he could. Little by little, the boy was able to pull him to the edge of the pool. The adults took it from there.
Advaik’s uncle performed CPR and got Yalavarthi breathing and conscious before police arrived on the scene. It was only after people started clapping, Raghu told the Star Tribune, that Advaik realized the significance of what he’d done. His actions saved a man’s life.
Yalavarthi would go on to make a full recovery. He was released from the hospital in mere hours. But later that day, he made a point of stopping by and thanking the boy who saved his life. Advaik told Fox 9 that Yalavarthi told him he loved him.
Shortly after the incident, Aaron Machtemes of the Eagan Police Department told Fox 9 how surprised he was. He’d seen plenty of people rescue one another, sure, but he’d never even heard of a child “spring[ing] into action” to save an adult from death.
Last week, Advaik received Eagan’s Lifesaving Award for his heroic actions last winter. It’s the highest honor the police department can give to a citizen, and Advaik is the youngest person ever to receive it.