by Elyse Wurm
A FAMILY holiday to Tweed Heads almost turned to tragedy in the first five minutes of arriving after a Warwick boy risked his own life to save his three-year-old brother from drowning.
Ayden and his younger brother Ashah had just pulled up to the holiday spot last weekend and were eager to look at the billabong.
The boys' mother, Jenna, told them explicitly they were not to go in the water, a message Ayden repeated over and over again to his younger brother.
But Ashah still dipped his toes in the water and while Ayden had his back turned to talk to a friend, Ashah paddled out on the boogie board his mother forbid him from taking.
Next thing Ayden knew his name was being screamed from the water, he looked out to see his brother struggling to stay above water and his head dipped below the surface.
"I yelled 'Ashah!' and threw whatever I was holding away and just did freestyle," the 10-year-old said.
When he got to his brother he pulled him up into a hug, but he could not touch the bottom of the billabong himself.
Having done years of swimming lessons, Ayden kicked and kept kicking to move them closer to shore.
"I kicked my legs as hard as I could, I could hover but I couldn't touch the bottom," he said.
"I was drowning myself but I didn't care, I just wanted to save my little brother.
"I thought if I stop, me and Ashah will drown so I kept going."
Ayden did not give up and eventually he swam them all the way back to shore.
He said he was relieved when he realised he'd saved his brother's life.
"I gave him a huge when I saved him and I was excited that he was still alive," he said.
Mrs Driscoll had felt a "gut feeling" while unpacking the camper van away the from the boys and had already started making her way down to the billabong when she ran into them and realised they were wet.
She was angry they had gone swimming when she told them not to, but then Ayden told her the full extent of the horrific event that almost took place.
Mrs Driscoll said the act was even more incredible given Ayden has ADHD and Aspergers, so she said it could take him a while to notice things going on around him.
"He gets in his own little world," she said.
"It's overwhelming to think when it came to the crunch he did realise what was going on."
Tragedy can strike in an instant, as Mrs Driscoll said it only took minutes for Ashah to get into trouble.
"It gives you chills to think we may not have come home with two children," she said.
"It makes me want to cry, overwhelmed that Ayden did what he did."
Mrs Discoll said it showed just how important swimming lessons are for children, having had both boys taught at WIRAC.
"If they hadn't, I don't think this would have panned out the way it did," she said.