Teen with autism rescued on San Marcos River

Sean Ammann floated more than three miles on the San Marcos River before being rescued on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. He returned to the river Friday with his family (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)
Sean Ammann floated more than three miles on the San Marcos River before being rescued on Tuesday, June 14, 2016. He returned to the river Friday with his family (KXAN Photo/Lauren Lanmon)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – As the Texas summer heats up, more and more people are making their way to the river to cool down. On Tuesday, a Kyle father lived his worst nightmare when his son went missing on the San Marcos River for more than two hours.

“The very first thing I thought was that I couldn’t see him, so he’s missing,” said the boy’s father David Ammann. His son, Sean, is 18 years old, but is nonverbal and has severe autism.

For the past seven years, the family has taken weekly trips in the summer to Rio Vista Falls in San Marcos. “They have been swimming since they were three. They love the water,” said Ammann.

With a life jacket on, the boys love to float down the falls, walk back up and do it again. But on Tuesday, Sean didn’t stop at the stairs.

“It becomes more of a very scary thing. You just don’t know, you just don’t know what can happen on a moving river like this,” said Ammann.

The San Marcos Fire Department searched up and down the river for Sean until they finally found him more than three miles down the river from where he started.

“When the river is moving good, it can be chaos and the kids just keep going and the parents can’t catch up to them. So, that’s when the parents call us and we launch and go after them,” said San Marcos Firefighter John Craft who responded on Tuesday to help rescue Sean.

“With him being autistic, there really was no communication. But, I could see that he was okay and happy. He was just strolling, having a nice little swim,” said Craft. After about 45 minutes, Craft was finally able to talk Sean into getting out of the water to return to his family.

“I spent a lot of time being scared, but when they finally said they had him, I started bawling in the fire truck,” said Ammann.

The San Marcos Fire Department reminds residents that the summers on the San Marcos River are busy and asks parents to always put life jackets on their children and keep their eyes on them. As for Ammann, he says he’s now even more cautious than before. “We had several conversations, first fall, second fall, third fall, stairs and out. And he knows that is what he is supposed to do.”

The route Sean took lead him under Interstate 35 and over Capes Dam. His family says the only injury he had was a bug bite on his leg.

“I really would like to thank all the first responders, they were all very professional and took care of the situation. They really helped out!” said Ammann.

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