FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Tony Buuck, 13, was honored Tuesday by the Allen County Sheriff's Department. In March, the Leo teenager rescued his sister, Samantha, 8, from a pond she had fallen into.
Buuck, who was 12 when it happened, said he still remembers how cold the water was that Saturday afternoon.
"The water was so cold, you only recognize the cold for a couple seconds," Buuck said. "Your whole body goes stiff, like when your foot falls asleep, that's what it felt like, violently all over. I got up, ran inside and called 911, and we're alive to tell the story."
Tuesday morning at the Allen County Courthouse, Buuck was given the Civilian Life Saving Award by Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries. That morning, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry proclaimed the day Tony Buuck Day.
"It feels great," the teen said. "Mayor Henry and Sheriff Fries were so kind, and I'm glad to be proclaimed to be a hero, but it's not just my day, it's all these officers around here day's too. They work hard every single day, I'm glad to be honored with them."
Buuck said he was outside, and had seen his sister, Samantha, 8, fall through the ice and into the family's pond.
"I ran out there, and knew I had to do something," Buuck said.
Buuck said he learned something during a boy scout's Akela Day that helped him out.
"I remembered, if you're going to get into the water, take your coat off," he said. "That weighs you down. I remembered that. I striped down to my shirt and jeans and tennis shoes. I started to walk out on the ice, and managed to get out to where she had fallen in."
But the ice couldn't hold him either.
"Pretty soon, the ice had cracked and I fell in," Buuck said. "I was lucky enough to grab ahold of her for a couple of seconds."
Samantha had her winter clothes on, which made her too heavy for her brother to lift.
"I ended up trying to see if she was still conscious by telling her to do a back float, but she was out by then," Buuck recalled. "I grabbed her hood, but started breaking through the ice.
"Luckily, my dad had heard me by then, and he had brought out a ladder and started scooting across the ice. Sadly, he fell through too, but the ice where he had been crawling out cracked. The dog ended up running across the ice and jumping into the hole with us. Now we're up to three people, a ladder and a dog, and it's mass chaos.
Thankfully, when the dog ran in, she broke up the rest of the ice, which allowed the Buucks to escape safely. Tony rushed inside and called 911.
"I'm really just proud of him," Samantha Buuck said Tuesday. "He saved my life, it's really amazing he did that."
Samantha, her mother, Karen, and other family members were in attendance to watch Tony receive his honor. Karen wasn't at home when the incident happened. She was with the family's other child that day.
"There was some plan in it," Karen Buuck said. "I don't know what it was. That's for God to decide, not me. The way everything worked out, the fact that Tony was still out here, and saw her. That some how, even with all the windows and doors closed, Dale heard him scream and yell, and he was able to come out here. Somehow it all just worked out."
Tony didn't want to rank how special the police's honor was, but he said it was just as special as his first day back at Leo Elementary after rescuing Samantha.
"I looked over at our bulletin board, and it says, Tony Buuck, our hero and friend," he said. "Thank you so much, and everybody in my class had signed that. Everybody wrote something kind. They just showed a lot of love. Everybody else in the school was like, you're such a hero and we're so proud of you."
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