One-legged man uses crutch in ice rescue

Published: February 22, 2006 | 3591st good news item since 2003

A man with one leg crawled out onto the thin ice of a pond to help rescue three young girls who broke through it Monday, using a crutch to reach one of them.

John Hodges, of Topeka, said he was at the Central Park Community Center waiting for his girlfriend to get a medical checkup when nurses asked if they could use his crutches to try to rescue the girls.

Hodges rushed to the edge of the nearby pond, where the girls, believed to be 6, 7 and 9, were struggling in the frigid water. While members of the community center staff assisted from a deck on the bank, Hodges crawled onto the ice.

He managed to grab the clothing of the two older girls and pull them to safety, said nurse Ann Betty. The 6-year-old was struggling farther out, about nine feet from shore, and Hodges extended one of his crutches to her and pulled her toward him.

“She was looking at me like, ‘Please, don’t let me die,'” Hodges said. “I wasn’t going to let that happen. If I would have had to give my own life for hers, I would have done it. I said to myself, ‘If she goes under one more time, I’m going down to get her.'”

Hodges, partially submerged, managed to hang onto the little girl, and he and the others got her to safety.

“He saved that little girl’s life,” Betty said. “She’d gone under several times. She was treading water as fast as she could.”

All three girls were alert and conscious after the rescue, though two were taken by ambulance for medical treatment.

Hodges said he recovered quickly from his dip in the icy water.

“I went inside and got warmed up,” he said. “I shed a few tears. I was just very grateful to God that that little girl lived.”

See also: Two heroes honored

Published in Rescues
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