ST. GEORGE – An 8-year-old boy who was rescued from an icy pond Christmas Day is “doing very well,” according to an update Wednesday from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.
The boy, identified as “Jason” in the update, fell through the ice covering a pond in New Harmony Christmas evening. He is estimated to have been in the water and under the ice for 30 minutes before being found and pulled out by Washington County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Thompson.
The boy was flown to Dixie Regional Medical Center by Intermountain Healthcare’s Life Flight and subsequently transported to Children’s Primary Hospital in Salt Lake City where he is recovering with family.
“The family of the child has reached out to the Sheriff’s Office to share their feelings following the incident, while maintaining their request for privacy during their son’s recovery,” Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. Dave Crouse wrote in the update.
Jason’s father reports he is doing very well, and describes the incident as a “Christmas miracle.” He also called the incident an example to the family that “God hears and answers prayers.”
Emergency responders received the report of a possible drowning in New Harmony around 5 p.m. Monday. Thompson, who has been on patrol in Toquerville, was the first responder at the scene and made the decision to get in the water and find the boy.
Thompson used his fists and arms, along with the force of his body weight, to smash through the ice to make a path toward where the boy was last seen.
Thompson is a former member of the Washington County Search and Rescue dive team, so he knew what he was getting into, he said during a news conference Tuesday.
Growing desperate, he soon found the boy beneath the ice beyond the initial search area. He pulled him from the water and took the boy to waiting paramedics.
Thompson received cuts and abrasions to his hands and arms, as well as some nerve damage. Though he jumped in the water to get the boy, Thompson gave credit to everyone involved in saving the boy’s life.
“They’re the real heroes,” Thompson said. “I was just the guy that went into the water.”
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Sheriff’s Deputy Darrell Cashin, who heads the county’s Search and Rescue teams, said factors involved in the boy’s rescue just “came together.”
The temperature of the water, estimated to be at 35 degrees by Thompson, increased the boy’s odds of survival, as did his age. Cold water slows down body functions and forces blood into the main parts of the body, both Thompson and Cashin said.
Thompson’s rescue diving experience was a great advantage, too, Cashin said.
In Cashin’s experience with water rescues over the last 20 years, they’ve often turned into body recoveries or ended with the rescued individual dying soon after. This is the first time, he said, the outcome has changed.
“This was extremely rare,” he said. “It’s really amazing.”
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