It was Christmas day, but this police officer was still on duty serving his community. And when the call for help came, he was ready to risk it all.
Sgt. Aaron Thompson of the Washington County (Utah) Sheriff got word that a boy had fallen through the ice at a pond and quickly arrived on scene. The 8-year-old boy was chasing a dog and ran out onto the ice when he broke through and plunged into the icy water.
“You never know exactly what you’re going to get into,” said Thompson, who was a former member of the sheriff's rescue diving team. “I just made the decision that I was going to go get him.”
He started to walk out onto the pond and began pounding on the ice with his hands. “The ice got thicker, and I couldn’t break it with my arms and my fists,” said Thompson. “So I started to jump up and down on it using my body weight, and it eventually gave way.”
He then dove to the bottom to evaluate the temperature and clarity of the water. “The clearer the water, the colder the water, the younger the individual, the better chance you have of rescuing someone alive,” he said.
“I had searched the entire broken-out area,” he continued, but the boy was nowhere to be found. He had to search under the unbroken ice.
After a few more minutes of searching, he found the boy.
“Using my tippy-toes, walking in the water up to my neck, I knew I was going to bump into him.”
As of this moment, the boy’s condition has not been disclosed. Thompson estimates that he was underwater for nearly a half an hour.
(UPDATE: The boy, identified only by Jason, is awake and alert and responding to staff at a Salt Lake City hospital.)
“Were really hopeful for this individual,” said Thompson. “The temperature of the water was a huge, huge factor.”
Cold water triggers a phenomenon in humans and mammals called the “mammalian diving reflex.” When your face gets submerged in cold water, blood automatically gets diverted from your extremities to your most essential organs, such as the brain, heart, and lungs. This way it can maximize the oxygen in your bloodstream and prolong life for as long as possible.
For some reason, children are known to be extremely effective at this physiological response and have been able to survive lengthy periods of time underwater. One boy in Italy, for example, was revived after spending 42 minutes underwater in a canal.
Thompson was quick to dismiss being hailed a hero. “It’s not me. It’s us. That’s the real story here,” he said, mentioning the efforts of the medical and rescue crew. “I was just the one that went out into the water.”
In other news, this husband knew something must be wrong when his wife didn’t return home one snowy night. Read the full story in the next article below!