Four kids from Chicago who fell through a frozen lake earlier this month are safe and sound thanks to the efforts of a heroic neighbor who plunged into the icy waters to save the friends from drowning, ABC 7 News Chicago reports.
On the afternoon of Feb. 16, four young friends from Chicago’s northern suburb of Mariner’s Cove ventured out onto a frozen pond despite their parents' warnings to stay off the ice, NBC Chicago reports.
When the children -- a 16-year-old boy, a 12-year-old girl and two 9-year-old boys -- had ventured about 20 to 50 feet from shore, the ice broke and they plunged through into the freezing water, according to the station.
Luckily, a mother who was driving near the pond with her daughter and her friends happened to spot the foursome in the lake, the Daily Herald reports. One of the girls lived right across the street, so they pulled the car into the driveway and started calling on neighbors to form a rescue plan.
Nearby, the daughters of Robert George, 40, heard what had happened and rushed to tell their father about the rescue effort that was mobilizing.
“I was working on the computer and my kids came in yelling that someone fell through the ice," George told the Chicago Sun Times. "So I ran out, dressed in a T-shirt and sweatpants, and saw that two of them were out a ways and two others were closer, and there were some adults trying to throw them a rope."
By then, one of the kids had been able to crawl free and two had been successfully reigned in by the rope, according to the Sun Times. But the last child, 9-year-old Ryan Duggan, was not so lucky.
"I was thinking I was going to die," Dugan told NBC News Chicago. "[The water] was up to about my neck and I was trying to doggie paddle to the shore."
With time running out, Robert George realized that desperate measures were needed to save Dugan, so he decided to plunge into the lake and rescue the boy himself.
"He was about 50 feet out and he said his legs were getting numb, so I just went in after him," George told the Sun Times. "I tied the rope around my waist and climbed over the ice, then started swimming when I could."
An ambulance arrived just as Dugan was pulled to safety, and paramedics checked the children at the scene. Though cold and frightened, none of the children were injured in the ordeal, according to the Daily Herald.
As for George, he escaped with a couple cuts and bruises.
"I’ve been in cold water before, but not with ice in it," he told the paper. "The hands and toes are still a little cold, and I’ve got scratches from the ice, but I'm gettin' there."