When the sheriff showed up at his school Tuesday, sixth grader Preston Caniglia figured he and his classmates were in for a speech.

He didn’t figure the speech would be about him.

Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis visited Andersen Middle School to talk about how Preston’s quick action saved a life last summer.

Davis presented Civilian Recognition Awards to Preston, 12, and Roxana Francke, an operating room nurse at Lakeside Hospital, who teamed up to rescue and revive Preston’s 3-year-old cousin, Dominik Schrawyer, from drowning.

“He wasn’t breathing,” Davis said. “He had turned blue. And these were the only people who could have helped him and saved him, and they did.”

The incident happened at a June 8 high school graduation party for Preston’s brother.

According to Preston, someone said there’s a kid at the bottom of the pool. When he looked down, he thought it was his brother, then realized it was his cousin.

“I guess an adrenaline rush went through me, and I just went down and got him,” he said.

He thought Dominik was dead.

“When I saved him, it wasn’t scary,” he said. “But when he was on the floor not breathing and was blue, I was scared because then I couldn’t do anything.”

That’s when Francke took over.

She did chest compressions, and the boy started to wake up and vomited, she said.

Davis said quick action by the pair paid off.

“Within a couple of minutes, he began to breathe again,” Davis said. “His color was coming back. By the time our officers got there, and the rescue squad got there, he was basically back to life.”

Francke credited Preston for acting when seconds mattered.

“Preston was amazing, brave,” she said. “He didn’t really put too much thought in it. He just knew instinctively to go in there and save him.”

A deputy sheriff who responded to the rescue call praised Preston in his incident report.

“Had Preston not been vigilant, the outcome of this call could have been significantly life-changing for all parties involved,” Deputy John Lingnau wrote.

The deputy recommended that Preston be recognized for his actions.

Preston, the son of Angela and Steve Caniglia, said the award presentation surprised him. He didn’t expect to be recognized.

Asked whether he had a message to share about his experience, Preston said:

“When someone’s in trouble, and you’re frozen, you can try and, I guess, force yourself to save them,” he said.

His dad said Preston is a strong swimmer. Preston said that in addition to swimming, he likes to play Roblox and Minecraft video games, hang out with friends and watch TV.

He said he’s “good with money,” and that when he grows up, he wants to be a stock adviser or stock trader.

Sign up for The World-Herald's afternoon updates

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

joe.dejka@owh.com, 402-444-1077

Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Recommended for you