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Eighth-Grade Hero Saves Boy From Drowning in Icy Pond

“I just kept thinking to myself, he’s going to fall in, he’s going to fall in,” Boy Scout recalls. “And then he fell in.”

Zac Thomas in his water safety gear for Boy Scouts | Credit: Angela Prusinski (slight edits made by Natalie Stevens)
Zac Thomas in his water safety gear for Boy Scouts | Credit: Angela Prusinski (slight edits made by Natalie Stevens)

Eighth-grader Zac Thomas doesn’t always pick his younger brother up from school at Fox Chase Elementary.

But on Jan. 14, Thomas grabbed his skateboard and made the half-mile trip to walk his fourth-grade brother, Ryan Prusinski, home.

And that decision may have saved a boy’s life.

While the brothers walked home, Thomas saw a boy climb the retaining wall that stands above one of the many retention ponds off of Washington. The boy, a fourth grader, jumped down from the wall and walked onto the icy pond.

“I just kept thinking to myself, he’s going to fall in, he’s going to fall in,” said Thomas. “And then he fell in.”

Thomas wasted no time rushing to the pond and pulling the fourth grader to safety.

Thomas, a boy scout with Oswego Troop 63, said he “didn’t really think about it,” but just knew “he had to help.”

And it was a good thing, too, because the water in the pond was deep enough that the boy couldn’t reach the bottom. And the boy couldn’t swim.

“He was very wet and cold and very panicked,” said Thomas’ mom, Angela Prusinski of what her son had described.

She said Thomas, after telling her about the rescue when he got home, didn’t think it was a big deal.

“And I said, if you weren’t there … that boy could have drowned.”

Due to the weather, not many students are walking home right now, she said, and no one else may have been in the area.

“No one else was there,” said Thomas, except his brother and the fourth-grade-boy’s sisters, who also do not know how to swim.

Prusinski said she has made her sons well aware to stay away from the retention ponds along their route. “Doesn’t matter if it’s spring or winter, you don’t go near that water,” she said.

That danger is one that isn’t talked about much, said Prusinski, who said she called Fox Chase’s principal about the incident.

“It’s really dangerous for the kids to be by those ponds in the neighborhood,” she said. “Parents need to talk to their kids about them.”

Thomas, who attends Thompson Junior High School, is just glad everything turned out all right.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” he said with a modest shrug. “I’m just glad he’s OK.”

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