MITSUHIRO OUCHI/Thinkstock(AURORA, Ill.) — An 8-year-old boy has been credited with saving his mother and his dog’s life after he called 911 when the two fell into an icy pond in Illinois this past weekend.
Cathy Medernach, 48, told ABC News that she and her son Caden, 8, were taking their Labrador retriever, Bailey, out for a walk behind their home in Aurora, Illinois, on Sunday when the dog saw ducks on the other side of a frozen pond and darted toward them.
Madernach said the dog fell through thin ice and she immediately started to panic.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Medernach told ABC News, “So I ran back to the house grabbed the canoe, the only thing I could think of, I couldn’t find an oar, so I grabbed a broom to paddle.”
She said that when she got to the pond with the boat, she asked her son to push her out, and then told him to run back to the house and call her husband, Eric.
“So he called my husband and from what my husband says, he said, ‘Dad, you should probably come home soon, Mom and Bailey are in the lake and I don’t know how to get them out,'” Madernach said.
She added that her husband immediately told Caden to hang up and dial 911.
Madernach said that when she took the canoe out, the boat quickly hit ice, which forced it to tip over and caused her to fall into the ice-cold water.
“So now I’m in the water, I couldn’t pull myself up,” Madernach said. “I thought, ‘What am I going to do, I can’t die this way, I’m not going to die this way.'”
She said she was eventually able to garner enough strength to swing her legs around and get back onto the canoe.
“I sat up and started screaming bloody murder, I said ‘Help, help,'” Madernach said, “I was trying to talk to my dog at the same time.”
Madernach said eventually rescue workers came, answering her son’s 911 call.
“So the policeman showed up first, and then they threw this rope and I said, ‘No, please save my dog’ and they said, ‘Ma’am, we are saving you first.’”
Madernach said she was taken to the ambulance and then inside her house to change out of her wet clothes and be checked for hypothermia, and as she was inside, she saw a fireman walk by with the dog in his arms. She said her husband took the dog to the emergency vet, and after the dog was checked out, the pet was able to come home that same day.
Madernach said when she fell into the water, “It sucked about all the energy I had in me out, but then I looked over and I saw her [the dog] and I thought ‘Oh my gosh.'”
Madernach said she then thought about her family, “I didn’t really see my life pass in front of me, I just thought, ‘What is my family going to do without me?'”
She said she was only in the water for a few minutes before she was able to lift herself back onto the canoe, but that the dog was in the water for about 30 minutes.
“I’m calling him my hero,” Madernach said of her son Caden, adding that she is “thankful that he did what he did, and that we’re alive to tell our story.”
An Aurora Fire Department Water Rescue Team member was able to rescue the dog, who was stranded approximately 50 yards from the shore, by going into the pond in a cold-water rescue suit, the fire department said in a statement.
The department added that Madernach was stranded approximately 25 yards from the shore, and they were able to rescue her by throwing a rope bag to her.
“Both the dog and woman are doing fine,” the AFD said in a statement.
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