In response to a distress call, Officer Aaron Thompson rushed over to the frozen pond in New Harmony, Utah, where an unnamed 8-year-old boy had fallen through the ice while chasing his dog.

Without thinking, Thompson threw off his gear and dove into action to save the boy… literally. He told NBC News:

“You never know exactly what you’re going to get into. I just made the decision that I was going to go get him.”

A former member of the sheriff’s dive team, Thompson was ready to face the pond. He reported that he walked out onto the frozen pond, only to find how thick it was. In response, he started to pound on it with his hands and fists. When that didn’t work, he jumped on the ice with all of his body weight until the ice began to crack.

Jumping in, Thompson reported that the signs of the water were promising. He said that:

“The clearer the water, the colder the water, the younger the individual,” the better chance you have of rescuing someone alive.

However, when he couldn’t trace the boy, the officer began to grow nervous. When he could not locate the boy in the “entire broken-out area” of the ice, Thompson concluded that the boy must be back where the ice wasn’t yet broken. Thompson explained:

“Using my tippytoes, walking in the water up to my neck … I knew eventually I was going to bump into him.”

He did, and just in time, too. Thompson estimated that the boy had been in the water for about 30 minutes before he was rescued. The boy’s condition hasn’t yet been made public; however, Thompson suffered only minor cuts and bruises, along with symptoms of hypothermia. The officer returned to work the following day.

Here’s a look at the pond at the time of the rescue:

The best way to determine whether ice is thick enough to walk on is by measuring it. Because not everyone carries around an ice chisel or an ice auger with them at all times, a simpler way to determine its safety is by assessing its color. Blog The Clymb advises that ice that’s blue or green will likely be safe. However, white ice and dark ice is dangerous and is more likely to crack.

If you or someone nearby happens to fall through the ice, the first thing to do is call 911, just like the friend of the fallen boy in this case. It would be helpful to have a large stick or rope nearby in order to help drag the victim out. However, avoid continuing to stand on the ice at all costs. Once rescued, it is imperative to treat the victim for hypothermia.

All in all, if the ice is thinner than three inches, it should be avoided.

Thompson refuses to be called a hero, passing the credit on to the “medical crews, the helicopter crews and a witness,” among other helpful bystanders. He said:

“It’s not me. It’s us.”

He added:

“That’s the real story here. I was just the one that went out into the water.”

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