New Harmony, UT – A Washington County sheriff’s deputy punched through an icy pond with his hands to save a drowning eight-year-old boy’s life on Christmas Day.
“I just made the decision I was going to go get him,” Washington County Sheriff’s Sergeant Aaron Thompson said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“I knew what I was getting into. I knew how cold that ice would be. I’ve dove under the water before. I knew about how much time I had in there … I knew exactly what I was getting into when I got into that water,” said Sgt. Thompson, a former member of the sheriff department’s dive team.
The incident occurred on Dec. 25 at about 5 p.m., in the town of New Harmony, north of St. George, when a child chased his dog onto a frozen pond, according to WATE.
Another child saw the eight year old fall through the ice, according to KTSU.
That child tried to save the boy first, but ran for help when he could not reach him in the frozen water, according to Lake Valley Life.
Sgt. Thompson was the first responder to arrive on the scene, and decided he could not wait for the dive team, according to Washington County Sheriff’s Lieutenant David Crouse.
LifeFlight, EMS, and the Search and Rescue Dive Team had been dispatched but had not arrived yet.
Sgt. Thompson stripped off his police gear and punched through the ice with his hands and arms until he created a path close enough to dive in and grab the boy, about 25 feet from the shoreline.
“As the ice got thicker, I couldn’t break it with my arms and my fists anymore. So I had to jump up on top of the ice to put my weight on it and pound on it to get it to break,” he said.
KSL-TV reported that the water got deep enough that Sgt. Thompson couldn’t touch the bottom, but he said he knew he’d eventually bump into the boy.
“Really, I couldn’t feel anything. I didn’t notice anything when I was doing it. I knew time was of the essence. I had a very short window to get that child out of the water,” he said.
He said he was running on full adrenaline at the time.
The boy was rescued by Sgt. Thompson and airlifted to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
On Tuesday, the child was being treated under sedation at Primary Children’s Hospital, KSL-TV reported.