Two boys were rescued Sunday night after they walked out onto a frozen pond in suburban Frankfort and the ice gave way.
Cruz Genet, 11, and his 10-year-old friend went exploring on the frozen pond in the evening unaware of how easily the ice could break. He said they wanted to go skating and see the ducks.
"We threw a rock on it," he said. "Then we kind of stepped on it a bit--we didn't hear any cracking."
Kami Genet, Cruz’s mother, told NBC 5 she’s told her kids “never to go on the ice.”
"We fell in and started trying to get out of the water, but the ice kept breaking every time we tried to get on the ice," Cruz said.
Cruz was terrified and began to think he was getting hypothermia.
"I might die,” he recalled thinking in the frigid waters. “I was really scared."
But neighbor John Lavin didn't think twice before jumping in the water to save the kids when he saw them struggling to get out.
"(It was) kind of hulk smash," Lavin laughed, recalling how he broke the ice when he jumped in. "(That's the) best way to describe it--any way to get through it."
On Monday, a grateful Cruz met with the neighbor who pulled him from the pond.
"Thanks for saving my life," Cruz said upon meeting the Lavin.
Kami expressed her gratitude to Lavin for saving her son, too.
"He's a hero," Kami said of Lavin. "He really is."
An emotional Cruz reflected on what could have gone wrong were Lavin not in the right place at the right time.
"I cannot repay him," Cruz said. "Just to think if he wasn't there--I could have died."