Toledo Police Officers recount icy pond rescue

Published: Jan. 24, 2019 at 4:11 PM EST
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Despite frigid temps and icy conditions, we’re hearing from the Toledo Police officers that went into a pond to save a teenager who was treading water to stay alive.

Those officers then needed rescue themselves and their fellow officers were there to help.

When David Lewis, 17, fell through an icy pond near North Ontario and Cleveland streets last Friday Officer Brian O'Connell responded first. He never imagined he'd be the next one in the water after he threw a rope bag to the boy.

"To see the look on this little boy's face. He was just screaming, help me, help me," said Officer O’Connell. “Once I heard the ice crack I knew and when that hole opened up it was quite refreshing."

O'Connell says his legs started to feel like rubber bands. Right behind him was Officer Thomas Killen

“The only thing I could think of was ‘I've got to get him out of there.' I reached forward. I got his hand. We tried to pull him out and the weight of him and my weight on the ice was just too much and I went down. The only thing I thought was 'oh my god, this is so cold’," said Officer Killen.

His partner Gary Bunting and other responding officers now had three rescues on their hands.

"My biggest thing at that point was if this ice goes, then there's no other way for any of us to get out. We have got to get them out as fast as we can," said Bunting.

All the officers were eventually pulled from the water. Cold, wet and shaken those officers quickly realized the teen was still in the water. With the help of the Toledo Fire Department Lewis made it to shore.

"His strength was shot. How he managed to hold onto that rope to get out, to have them pull him out is beyond me. Thank God it happened that way," said O’Connell.

Those officers were treated at an area hospital for exposure to the cold. They shrug off the idea of being called heroes, saying they were just doing their jobs in some of the most grueling conditions.

"The pins and needles. It takes your breath away. It's horrific. It's the worst feeling,” said Killen.

The officers also credit the 11-year-old with the teen for getting help. He ran up the hill, yelling for help. A woman getting her mail called 911.

Emergency crews took Lewis to the hospital as well to be treated for his cold weather exposure.