The 20-year-old man was installing solar panels at a home when he heard that a young nonverbal girl with autism that lived in the neighborhood was missing.

20-year-old Jake Manna used to be a lifeguard, but he recently found himself in Plymouth, Massachusetts, installing solar panels.

The man was working at a house in the town’s Buttermilk Bay neighborhood, when he heard that a young girl who lives in the neighborhood had just gone missing.

“First reaction was to go start looking,” Manna told Boston 25 News. “Some people went one way, some people went the other way, and I took my own path.”

The man is not even from Plymouth and he doesn’t really know the area, but he decided to follow a path in case the 5-year-old girl had tried it before him.

The girl’s mother was driving by the neighborhood letting people know that her young autistic daughter had gone missing and asking for help.

The fact that the girl was non-verbal made things even harder for those searching for her, but everyone tried to do their best to help.

Neighbor Toni-Elizabeth Anderson saw in her security camera that the girl had passed by her house a while earlier, so she sent Manna and others to look for the missing girl in the direction that she seemed to have followed.

The trail leads to the water, so if they were right about the girl having followed it, they needed to act fast and find her before she reached the water.

“I had to cross a river to get over to the lake, and I saw a diaper and T-shirt floating down the river,” Manna said. “So, I thought of the worst, and my heart dropped, and I ran straight to the lake.”

Indeed, that’s where he found the little child. She was in waist-deep water, but she was quickly moving deeper.

He called her name to draw her attention and soon Manna managed to get closer to her and drag her out. The former lifeguard passed the girl on to a woman who, in turn, passed her to Anderson’s uncle, who took the child to the street.

Soon, a pink life vest and a princess towel were brought for the unclothed girl to put on, and a pull-up diaper and a pair of shorts were brought to her, while she was being taken care of and waiting for her mother.

Medics arrived at the spot to take care of the child, and they confirmed that she had not been hurt.
Only moments later, the girl’s mother arrived and she just couldn’t believe how lucky her little girl was. As she admitted, it was the worst moment of her life, and she was forever thankful to her neighbors for having found and rescued her daughter.

But Jake was the hero of the day. The young man was invited to the Police Department the next day and was presented with a certificate and a command coin.

“I wouldn’t call myself a hero. It was just the right time, right place. And I think anyone else would’ve done the same,” Manna said.

Watch Manna talk about the incident in the video below.

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