Milford man honored for saving child who fell through ice - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Milford man honored for saving child who fell through ice

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Police body camera shows Milford officers helping John O’Rourke back to shore. (Milford Police) Police body camera shows Milford officers helping John O’Rourke back to shore. (Milford Police)
MILFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Last February, John O’Rourke rescued a young boy who fell through the ice of a frozen pond.

The police body camera shows Milford officers helping John O’Rourke back to shore.

However, what you won’t see is how just minutes before, he put his life on the line, to save another. Something that didn’t go unnoticed.

“I got the call a couple of weeks ago and it was quite an honor. Surprised and overwhelmed,” O’Rourke said.

The call was from the Carnegie Hero Fund, as in the famed industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

Unbeknownst to O’Rourke, they got word about how he saved a 10-year-old boy after he fell through the ice, and into the icy waters of Mondo Pond back in February 2017.

“I got out to him, he grabbed at a stick, and just as I started to pull him up, the ice went out from underneath me and then down I went and there he was,” O’Rourke said.

The Carnegie medal is given out four times a year, to those in the U.S. and Canada, who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving the lives of others.

With two of them in the icy water and about 75 yards from shore, O’Rourke was treading water and trying to break the ice, with the 10-year-old boy clinging to his back.

“I reached around, kicked my legs, threw him up and he went on the ice, first shot, told him to lay flat and wiggle his way out to shore,” O’Rourke said.

The boy did just that. Police arrived and used a line and a life saver to help get O’Rourke back to shore.

The Pittsburgh-based fund started giving out the award in 1904. In addition to the medal, O’Rourke also receives a financial grant.

As for who nominated him?  

“I don’t know, right now it’s a mystery,” he said.

While he’s getting an award for being a hero, even more than a year later, he still refuses to see himself in that light.

“I’m getting recognition which is great, but I’m getting recognition for something that I think just about anybody else would do anyway,” he said.

He doesn’t have the medal just yet, it needs to be engraved, but he says he was told it's likely he’ll be presented with the medal sometime in May.

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