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A New Jersey cop clawed across the frozen Passaic River on Thursday to rescue a girl, 2, and her mother after they both fell through the ice, according to reports.
Elmwood Park Police Chief Michael Foligno rushed into action that afternoon after receiving a call that “someone saw a body or two in the river.”
Upon arriving, Foligno said the mother, 37, was screaming that she couldn’t hold on to her child any longer, as she held onto the ice with her other hand, according to NorthJersey.com. He quickly borrowed a plastic kayak from a nearby gas station and ‒ using a shovel ‒ tried to push himself about 75 yards out to reach the pair.
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“It wasn’t working, though, so I lay down on my stomach and just started digging into the ice with my fingers to claw my way out. It felt like eternity with her screaming,” Foligno said.
Foligno eventually reached the pair and got them both in the kayak. Detective Capt. Mark D’Amore told the Daily Voice they “were seconds away from going under,” as he reached them.
Still panicking, the woman screamed, “We’re going to die!” as she clung to the chief who calmed her down and waited for rescuers to arrive, according to the media company.
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About 25 minutes later, firefighters arrived at the scene and one of them put on a wetsuit to walk out into the freezing waters before pulling the kayak to shore, NorthJersey.com reported.
“He’s 6-foot-5 and it was up to his neck, but they managed to pull us in,” Foligno said. “While we were waiting, I lay on top of them to get some body heat, and the child had started to blink. The ambulance said her temperature was in the 80s.”
The victims were then rushed to St. Joseph’s University Medical Center in Paterson, N.J.
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“GREAT JOB to Chief Foligno for seizing the moment and putting his life at risk to save a mother and child,” wrote the Elmwood Park Police Department following the incident. “Due to quick thinking and a great job by all not 1 but 2 lives, mother and child, were saved.”
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