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Child, police officer recovering after icy water rescue

COLUMBUS (WCMH) -- A Columbus police officer and a child were both hospitalized after falling into water at a pond in northeast Columbus.

According to Columbus firefighters, six-year-old Merlin St. Germain and his sister, nine-year-old Camilda Neriva were playing on a frozen pond in the 1900 block of Belcher Drive, when the boy fell into the water.

Two Columbus police officers arrived at the frozen pond before firefighters. Officer Deb Paxton and Randall Lyons made the decision they had to go out onto the ice and try to rescue the six-year-old boy.

Both officers had rescue ropes in their cruisers and tied themselves off to a post and began to creep out onto the ice.

"It is just terrifying for a moment, Officer Lyons has young kids at home, and so do I," said Officer Paxton.

The ice started cracking under both of them.

"Officer Lyons is bigger and stronger and said he was going I said go for it," Paxton said.

Lyons broke through and disappeared, then popped up and tried to swim.

"I had no idea how cold the water was in a matter of seconds I just locked up," Officer Lyons said.

He signaled to Paxton that he couldn't make it. She said he was too heavy to pull back in by herself.

"Thank goodness for the citizens were there to help me or I would not have been able to pull Officer Lyons by myself," Paxton said.

Hypothermia quickly set in.

"Randall just collapsed, he just dropped down and went unconscious," she said.

Some people are calling them heroes.

"I don't really consider myself a hero… I absolutely did the right thing, I have small kids myself," Lyons said.

Officer Lyons is at Saint Ann's Hospital and will make a full recovery. Both officers say they were just doing their job.

Paxton has been an officer for 18 years, with four other years working in the 911 center. Lyons has been on the force for 20 years.

Six-year-old Germain was pulled from the pond by Columbus firefighter Scott Benjamin.

"We walked straight to the pond and knew at that point we were going in," the firefighter said.

Benjamin said it took his crew only a couple of minutes to get the boy out. Benjamin said the boy was unconscious and remains in critical condition at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

"My hope and wish is that he walks out of that hospital and that he has a long successful healthy life and gets to enjoy this time on earth," Benjamin said.

A father himself, Benjamin said he warns his children about playing on the frozen ponds in his neighborhood.

"No ice is ever safe in my opinion," he said.

    

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