It was a Christmas morning unlike any other for Sgt. Aaron Thompson, an officer in the Washington County Police Department. Thompson likely expected to receive the odd few calls about someone stuck in a frozen ditch, or maybe a kid calling in to report that their little sister had stolen the present they wanted the most.
However, the call he received was anything but ordinary: it was from a young boy whose friend had been chasing the family dog out near a frozen river, only to step onto some thin ice and fall into the freezing waters. Emergency responders were contacted, and Thompson, a rescue diver by training, was the first on the scene.
Speaking to NBC News, he mentions that he made his decision about how to handle the situation right away:
"You never know exactly what you're going to get into. I just made the decision that I was going to go get him."
Thompson's first order of business was to try to break a thicker patch of ice to get to the boy, which he detailed out in his statement.
"The ice got thicker, and I couldn't break it with my arms and my fists. So I started to jump up and down on it using my body weight," which eventually caused the ice to shatter.
The boy had been trapped under the unbroken part of the ice for nearly half an hour, meaning Thompson had to make his way over there, and fast.
"Using my tippytoes, walking in the water up to my neck ... I knew eventually I was going to bump into him," Thompson said. "As a water rescuer, we're trained to know we have a 'golden hour.'"
The boy was rushed to the hospital and his condition has yet to be disclosed, but Thompson is already being hailed by locals as a hero. When asked about this by NBC, the man remained humble in his response:
"'It's not me. It's us,' he said, championing the involvement of medical crews, the helicopter crew and a witness who steered him in the boy's general direction, as well as members of other agencies who all flocked to the scene.
'That's the real story here,' he said. 'I was just the one that went out into the water.'"
What do you think? Is Sgt. Thompson a hero?