Boy saved from drowning by 11-year-old cousin

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Anthony Setzer, an 11-year-old from Rocklin, is being called a hero after saving the life Saturday of his cousin, 7-year-old Matthew Hogrefe of Lincoln. After eating cake at a Holy Communion party in Lincoln, Anthony hurried to be the first one back to the pool. When Anthony got there, he saw Matthew in the water, unmoving. “He wasn’t really doing anything,” Anthony said. “I dived in and grabbed his arm and dragged him to the steps.” As other children arrived, they helped Matthew out of the pool. “He was all purple around the mouth,” said Sally Ruiz, Matthew’s grandmother. “He was weak and couldn’t stand up.” Once out of the pool, Matthew vomited foamy water as his aunt Lucia Setzer – Anthony’s mother – called 9-1-1. On Monday, Matthew said that he didn’t remember all that had happened but that he’d slipped and fallen into the pool on his way to get a slice of cake. “I never learned how to swim,” Matthew said. Lucia Setzer said an adult had been supervising the kids while they were swimming, but somehow, Matthew was left behind when everyone rushed to get to the cake. “He usually wears a Spiderman life vest,” Ruiz said, adding that someone had forgotten the life vest that day, and he wasn’t going to go swimming without it. “He wasn’t supposed to go in the pool,” Lucia Setzer said. “He just slipped and fell in.” Anthony said he didn’t even think about what he was doing when he saw Matthew in the pool – he just reacted. When Anthony was younger, he used to role-play with his family on what to do in the event of a drowning. One swimmer would pretend to be drowning, and others would pull him or her to safety, Anthony explained, adding that those games helped him be able “to react without thinking” Saturday. Emergency crews responded fast, Ruiz said, transporting Matthew to Sutter Roseville Medical Center, where he was treated and underwent a series of tests to make sure he didn’t have any permanent damage. “I’m really thankful (to the emergency crews),” Ruiz said. “They responded real quick.” Matthew stayed in the hospital overnight and was released Sunday. “It’s horrible how something can happen just in a second like that,” Lucia Setzer said. “We were just lucky that day.” Water safety information: Pools: Pools should be enclosed by fences with gates. Rescue equipment such as a life ring and a pole someone can grab onto should be nearby. Children should be taught to swim at age 4 or age 5. Adult supervision is a must. Never go out to the pool alone. Rivers: Never underestimate the power of the river. Anyone near swift water should wear a life vest. If you do float in the river, wear a life vest and keep your feet up and pointing downstream - Water-safety information from Lincoln Fire Chief Dave Whitt Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at