Man trying to save dogs rescued from icy pond in Delaware

MARSHALLTON, Delaware -- A dramatic rescue was caught on camera after a man trying to save his dogs fell into an icy pond in Delaware.

Now, he's getting the chance to thank the people who saved his life.

Surface Water Rescue members say George Eserling is lucky to be alive, and he himself is ever so grateful to those who rescued him.

He fell into an icy pond in Pike Creek. He had gone in after his dogs, a boxer and a basset hound, who were chasing geese.

"Right when I got to the dogs, the ice fell in for me," he said. "So I went in."

He managed to throw dogs to safety, but he himself was unable to get out.

"I tried and tried, but every time I tried, I boosted myself up, the ice would cave in," he said. "It was deep. I couldn't touch bottom."

Firefighters from the Newcastle County Rescue Team arrived on the scene after a young couple called to report what happened.

"He kept saying, he can't stand, he can't move his hands," said Anthony Dell Aquila, with the Hockessin Fire Company. "So when I got to him, I got into the hull with him. I got behind him. I put my arms under his arms and pinned him to our rescue sled."

Finally, they were able to get him out of the pond.

"As time went on, I was getting colder and colder, and my arms and hands felt completely numb," Esterling said.

They rushed him to Christiana Care Hospital, where he was treated for hypothermia.

"He was minutes away from going under," said Michael Emmell, with the Millcreek Fire Company. "He was panicking. He was ready to give up."

The dogs were OK, and Esterling is back at work at his seafood restaurant, grateful to his rescuers and the couple who saw what happened and called for help.

"If it wasn't for the young couple there, things would have been a little different," he said. "I wish I had their names, but thank you."

Every winter, the rescue team has to rescue someone from the icy waters. They remind people to not take chances in the icy waters.

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