NEW HARMONY, Utah – A Utah sheriff's deputy said Tuesday he 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 8-year-old boy who had fallen through the ice while chasing his dog.
With cuts on his forearms, Washington County sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Thompson said at a news conference that rescuers believe the child was in the 37-degree 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," 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 Lt. David Crouse said the boy was hospitalized in Salt Lake City but he didn't have details on his condition. Thompson said deputies were hopeful.
The boy fell through the ice in the town of New Harmony, north of St. George.
After arriving at the scene, 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 25 feet from the shoreline.
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," Pulsipher said.