OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — A Bay Area professor is being called a hero for risking his life to save a teenager on an icy lake in South Lake Tahoe.

Ian Whitmarsh lives in Oakland and was visiting family in South Lake Tahoe.

On Wednesday, he went for a walk near Lake Baron.

Whitmarsh says they saw the 13-year-old walking his bike across the frozen water. Then Whitmarsh’s sister-in-law yelled out that the boy was in the water.

Hesitant at first, Whitmarsh made a bold decision and headed onto the fragile ice.

For a frantic two minutes, the only thing separating life and potential death for Whitmarsh was a thin sheet of broken ice.

“It was extremely scary. The whole time I was scared,” Whitmarsh said.

Whitmarsh grew up in Michigan and knew to lay flat and slide on the ice to disperse his weight. That’s also how he pulled the 13-year-old back to shore, saving his life.

“His voice –when he said ‘Help me please!’ — it didn’t sound good. It sounded like he was really struggling,” Whitmarsh said.

The boy was taken to the hospital with severe hypothermia. He was later released and is doing okay.

The sheriff’s department plans to give Whitmarsh a civilian metal for bravery in the coming days.


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