TOLEDO (WTOL) - “Oh no. Just a flash of light,” Officer Brian O’Connell said.
Chilling words from a first responder who plunged into a frozen pond last Friday. He was one of five Toledo Police Officers trying to save a teenager from icy water in North Toledo.
"We got out of the car. You could hear the kid screaming for dear life. He was screaming loud, and you could just tell by the tone of his voice, he thought he was dying,” Officer Thomas Killen said.
Five Toledo Police officers rushed in to rescue a teenage boy from a frigid north Toledo pond last Friday. While the first officer made his way onto the ice to toss the boy a rescue bag, he plunged through.
"I was thinking, ‘It’s a pond, I’ll be up to my knees.’ I never touched bottom,” Officer Brian O’Connell said.
After seconds that felt like eternity, Officer O'Connell resurfaced.
Then, the situation took another turn.
"Tried to pull him up, and with him pulling on me and my weight, the ice cracked below me and then I go through the water. Now we got two officers in the water, and still a teenager screaming for help,” Officer Killen said.
Officer Killen managed to roll himself out onto the ice. Then he and three other officers pulled Officer O’Connell out of the freezing water.
"Really, nothing goes through your mind. You just start reacting. You start kind of developing a way to get them out without going in yourself, because you could hear the ice cracking,” Officer Gary Bunting said.
Officer Killen’s partner said rescue crews formed a human chain to save the teenage boy.
At this point, Officer O’Connell’s muscles started seizing due to the exposure. Yet, he doesn’t consider himself a hero. He saves that title for the boy who called 911.
"The 11-year-old boy is the one who’s the hero. He didn’t panic, he didn’t go in. If he would have went and helped his cousin, his brother, if he would have helped him, we would have had two people, and this would have been a recovery mission,” Officer O’Connell said.
All of the officers have since recovered from their exposure to the frigid water.
Officers said the experience serves as a warning to stay off of the ice. It’s not as thick as it looks and isn’t worth the risk.