An Ohio man who took his dog out for what he assumed would be a routine trip to the bathroom Monday ended up being in the right place at the right time and heroically saved a boy who had fallen into a frozen pond.
Austin Hayes told WKRC-TV that he stepped outside his home at Palmera Apartments in Deerfield Township, Ohio, with his dog when he saw the boy neck-deep and struggling to get out from the icy waters.
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“As soon as I opened the door, I saw the young kid struggling to get out of the ice,” the rescuer told WXIX-TV. “Clearly [he] walked across and fell through up to his neck, struggling. He kept screaming, ‘I’m getting ready to pass out! I’m tired!'”
Hayes immediately jumped into action and grabbed a towing strap from a neighbor, but it wasn’t the correct size. That’s when he had to start making his way on the ice; he found an area that wasn’t deep and got closer to the boy.
“I just knew I needed about an extra foot of length,” he said. “We were able to get it, and he was able to get it around his wrist, and we got him out.”
Hayes, who has a 1-year-old baby, said his parenting skills propelled his quick-thinking actions.
“My daddy instincts just kicked in,” Hayes told WKRC-TV. “I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time.”
The boy, who some sources reported was 14 and others 10, had reportedly gone to the bus stop to meet his sister and decided to walk on the frozen water on his way back home — a decision that quickly turned dangerous.
He was treated at a local hospital for hypothermia and was later released thanks to Hayes’ heroic actions and first responders’ efforts once they arrived on the scene.
But Hayes seems to believe his dog Red also deserves some credit for the rescue.
He initially thought the golden retriever needed to go to the bathroom when he first let her out but now thinks the dog might have sensed something was wrong.
“She knew something because she wanted to go outside,” he said. “And afterwards, I let her back out, and she didn’t go to the bathroom. So, something was going on.”
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