Off-duty Evanston cop saves boy from freezing Des Plaines river - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Off-duty Evanston cop saves boy from freezing Des Plaines river

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DES PLAINES, Ill (FOX 32 News) -

A 7-year-old boy is lucky to be alive, thanks to an Evanston police officer.

Sean O'Brien, a four year veteran of the Evanston Police Department, was running errands on his day off when he spotted a child near the dangerous waters of the Des Plaines River.

The officer made a split-second decision and put the life of the wandering boy before his own.

"We just saw him pick up a big snowball and he was kind of playing with it in his own world and he was running toward the river and I was just trying to talk to him at his level and get him to stop running," O'Brien says. "He ended up throwing the snowball in the river and jumped in and I jumped in after him."

This was during height of Tuesday's snowstorm. Seconds surely felt like minutes for O'Brien and the young boy immersed in these subfreezing waters while O'Brien's girlfriend called police.

"Once I got him out, he was crying," O'Brien explains. "I'm sure he was in shock by how cold the water was, he was crying. We got him back to the car, put the heat on and my girlfriend handed me the phone to give the location to the police and she calmed him down and introduced him to our little puppy."

If not for Officer O'Brien, the outcome could have been tragic.

"In this case, hypothermia had already started to set in and it would not have taken long before the boy would have perished," Des Plaines Fire Department Chief Alan Wax says.

Moments before the scare, police say the child was with his grandmother when she lost track of him. Police say this was not criminal and no one is under investigation.

"I spoke to the mother earlier today and she indicated that he is back to school so he was released from the hospital and is doing well," Wax says.

Officer O'Brien says officers do not receive water rescue training, though he hiss years of swimming lessons have paid off. This is not the first time he has saved a life. Four years ago, he received a medal of valor for helping to rescue his co-worker from a burning car.

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