PIONEER, CA - Nine-year-old Victor Flores is being called a hero after saving a friend who fell through an icy pond.
He was a bit reluctant on Monday to walk close to a man-made pond on his grandfather's property in the Amador County town of Pioneer.
He explained when he was there a week ago with a seven-year-old neighbor, the ground was covered with two feet of snow and the pond had iced over.
Flores said he and his friend, Aiden, were chasing some ducks when Aiden decided to venture out onto the ice. "I told him not to do it," Flores said. "But he kept saying come on, it's okay."
Within minutes the fragile ice broke and Aiden fell into the frigid water that's about 15 feet deep.
Flores tried to grab his friend. "And then I slipped on the edge of the pond and I fell in, too," Flores said. "I was shivering and I lost both of my boots as soon as I fell in.
He also lost his hat but probably didn't notice because Aiden panicked and was flailing in the water. Flores explained, "He was screaming my name and trying to pull me under so he could stand on me."
But Flores kept his cool and pulled Aiden toward the steep concrete rimming the pond. "I grabbed onto a crack at the edge and pulled myself out," said Flores. "Then I ran and got a pole to pull him out. But Aiden was having a hard time holding on and kept slipping off."
Flores didn't give up and was finally able to haul his friend out with the help of his grandmother. She ran to the pond when she realized the boys were in trouble.
"When we arrived Aiden was very, very cold and in shock from being in the cold water," said CalFire Capt. Mark Chatterton who was among the rescue workers called to the scene.
Chatterton was surprised to learn that Flores had the presence of mind to pull his friend to safety. "They could have both drowned," Chatterton said. "In my mind he was the true hero of this incident. We just came in and took over the efforts that he started."
Both boys were transported to the hospital but recovered and were sent home.
Flores said he just did what he had to do. When asked what his reaction would be if it happened again he declared, "I (would) do the same thing I did."
by Karen Massie firstname.lastname@example.org