Matthew Nickels saved Kendall Hock from drowning, Dayton, Ohio, January 24, 2004. Kendall, 7, broke through ice partially covering a water-filled gravel pit. He struggled to stay afloat in an area of open water, at a point about 15 feet from the closest bank. Air and water temperatures were frigid. Driving past the pit, Nickels, 40, welding equipment maintenance repairman, saw movement in the water and stopped to investigate. Discovering Kendall’s plight, Nickels called 911 and then stepped onto solid ice and, lying on his stomach, inched his way toward Kendall, who was in water at least six feet deep. Nickels intended to reach Kendall with his belt, but, after going about 10 feet, he too broke through the ice. He plunged into the water head first, losing his eyeglasses. Nickels made his way a few feet to Kendall, grasped him, and swam through the open water back to the edge of the pit. He pushed Kendall out of the water and then exited the pit himself. Arriving rescue workers took Kendall to the hospital, where he was kept overnight. Nickels also required hospital treatment, for hypothermia, and he fully recovered within a few days.
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