Every year several people die from falling through thin ice and either freezing or becoming trapped below the surface. When a person falls into water that cold, they can fatigue very quickly, making it extremely difficult to pull themselves back out. When something like this occurs, it can also be very difficult to rescue the person.

While the country as a whole saw large amounts of snow and freezing temperatures, an 8-year-old boy’s life was on the line this Christmas Monday, December 25, near St. George, Utah when he chased a dog out onto a pond covered in thin ice. Around 5 pm, first responders arrived on scene after receiving reports that a young boy had fallen through some thin ice, approximately 25 feet from the shore. Apparently a second child who witnessed the event unfold rushed in to help, but unable to recover the fallen boy, quickly ran to nearby family members who promptly called emergency services.

A Washington County Sheriff’s deputy, Sergeant Aaron Thompson, was the first to respond to the call and arrive on scene. Upon his arrival, Thompson made a spit second decision to recover the boy himself, rather than wait for further support from other emergency services. The Sgt. quickly dropped his duty belt and excess gear before plunging into the icy water, using his forearms, and eventually his whole body due to the thickness of the ice, to smash a path out to the small child. Once Thompson had retrieved him from under the ice, he retreated to the shore where an unknown citizen assisted in transporting him to a nearby ambulance. From there, LifeLine evacuated the boy via helicopter to a nearby hospital for emergency treatment.

Later in a press release it was made known that Sgt. Thompson had suffered and was being treated for superficial cuts and bruises to his body as well as hypothermia. The 8-year-old boy and the dog who fell through the ice are in stable condition and were also treated for symptoms of hypothermia. Thompson was later told reporters, “I couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t notice anything when I was doing it,” and, “I knew that time was of the essence. I had a very short window to get that child out of the water.” Sgt. Thompson’s selfless actions are nothing short of heroic and a testament to the quality of the many personnel found within various law enforcement entities nation wide.