Eleven-year-old Sarah Thalhammer was rescued by a police office who crawled out to where she had fallen through a partially frozen bay on New York's Long Island. Sarah, a sixth-grader, went into the water when the neighbor's dog she was walking broke free and pulled her onto the thin ice on Great South Bay in Sayville.
"I fell through, and I was screaming," Sarah said, hours after her rescue near her home, according to Newsday. "I couldn't get out. It was very cold."
She said she was unable to get out of the 4-foot-deep water "because the ice was so slippery and the water was splashing out."
A nearby resident heard her cries and called 911. Within minutes, Suffolk County police officer Matthew DeMatteo was there, crawling on his stomach to grab the panicking girl.
"I could see just her head sticking out of the water," DeMatteo said, according to the New York Post. "I was nervous that we'd both go in, but I couldn't just sit there and do nothing. When you see her in the water, you're going to do whatever you can to help her."
But after he got her out of the water and they headed for land, the ice gave way again, sending them both briefly into the frigid water.
Chris Gonzales, first assistant chief of Sayville Community Ambulance, threw them a rope and pulled them ashore. They were taken to a hospital for observation, though neither was seriously injured.
At a news conference at Stony Brook University Medical Center, Sarah and DeMatteo sat side by side in wheelchairs, both wrapped in gray blankets.
"I'm better, just my hands feel all tingly," Sarah said, according to the New York Daily News.
"Thank God I was able to make it out to her and get her out in one swoop," he said. "Honestly, it's doing my job. You see someone in distress, you need to help them."
The puppy, 1-year-old Ace Ventura, a poodle-Maltese mix, never went in the water and was grabbed from the ice by firefighter Chuck Hartman.
"The dog was shaking and scared," Hartman said, the Post reported. "It was nice to save a life today."