Alert neighbours have rushed to the aid of a four-year-old autistic boy screaming for help in Gisborne's Taruheru River.
Locals in Stanley Road in suburban Riverdale heard the youngster crying and saw he was in trouble about 3pm today.
One man swam across the river and lifted the boy out of the water, while another man ran round the bank to help.
The boy had been trying to climb the muddy bank but kept sliding back into the water.
A police spokesperson said the boy, whose parents had been looking for him, was taken to Gisborne Hospital and was being kept in overnight for observation.