Students honored for saving classmate with autism from drowning in Garden Grove

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A special honor usually given only to firefighters was presented to three Santiago High School students who saved the life of a classmate with autism. (KABC)

Fourteen-year-old Christopher Tram had an opportunity to thank three classmates at Santiago High School that jumped into action to save his life three weeks ago.

Tram, diagnosed with autism, doesn't know how to swim. On April 28, he sank in the deep end of the school's swimming pool.

"It was scary. Chris was very pale, blue lips, and at the time, he wasn't breathing," said Assistant Principal Holly Jefferson, who arrived as Tram was pulled from the water by fellow students.

He soon started coughing up water and blood.

"We were very worried," Jefferson told ABC7.

Daniel Gomez, Angelo Mendoza and Christina Contreras were awarded Monday with the Garden Grove Fire Chief's Coin for their bravery that day. The recognition is generally awarded to firefighters, but occasionally is extended to civilians who save a life.

"He was pretty easy to lift up, but at the same time it was hard because my breath was running out," said Mendoza.

Tram was released from the hospital two days later and has fully recovered from the drowning incident.

As we approach summer, Garden Grove Fire Chief Tom Schultz is raising awareness about "Water Watchers." It's a campaign, sponsored by all Orange County fire chiefs, educating children not to swim alone. The campaign rolls out every summer.

Next, Tram wants to thank to nurses at CHOC in Orange who helped him during his recovery.

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