Hero deputy sheriff breaks through frozen pond to rescue boy

A Utah sheriff's deputy was desperate and numb from the cold as he punched and stomped his way into a frozen pond on Christmas Day to pull out an eight-year-old boy who had fallen through the ice while chasing his dog.

Key points:

  • Washington County Sheriff's Sergeant Aaron Thompson lost feeling in his fingers after rescuing boy from frozen pond
  • Boy was hospitalised and his condition is unknown, but deputies are hopeful
  • The eight-year-old was in freezing water for about 30 minutes

With cuts on his forearms, Washington County Sheriff's Sergeant Aaron Thompson said at a news conference on Tuesday that rescuers believed the child was in the 2.7C water for about 30 minutes until the deputy rescued him.

"I couldn't feel anything. I didn't notice anything when I was doing it," Sergeant Thompson said.

"I knew that time was of the essence. I had a very short window to get that child out of the water."

Sheriff's Lieutenant David Crouse said the boy was hospitalised in Salt Lake City but he did not have details on his condition. Sergeant Thompson said deputies were hopeful.

The boy fell through the ice in the town of New Harmony, north of St George.

Landscape picture of a frozen pond surrounded by mountains and dry shrubbery on a sunny day.

After arriving at the scene, Sergeant Thompson, who had served on a search and rescue dive team, began searching an area where a woman reported seeing the boy's hand flail about four minutes earlier.

The deputy stomped to break through the ice and work his way deeper, pounding with his hands and fists.

"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, putting my weight on it, and then pound on it to get it to break," he said.

When he went into the water, his toes brushed against reeds growing on the bottom of the pond and water reached his neck.

He swished his arms and legs around before finding the boy beneath the ice, about 7.5 metres from the shoreline.

Sergeant Thompson was treated for symptoms of hypothermia and released from a hospital Monday night.

He said he lost the feeling in some fingers but sensation had returned by Tuesday.

He expects to return to work by early next week.

The Spectrum of St George reported that Sheriff Cory Pulsipher praised the deputy.

"He hates having the spotlight on him, but he's a hero," Mr Pulsipher said.


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