HAMILTON, Ind. (WANE) — A Hamilton man is thanking his teenage neighbor after her quick action saved his life last weekend.
February 16 was only the second time this season Thomas Stackhouse has been able to ice fish in the pond by his house. He did not have any luck in his first spot so he moved 20 feet out, but the ice was not thick enough and it started breaking.
“I almost made it back and my left foot, I guess it was, starting falling through the ice so I put more weight on my right and then it started going through,” said Stackhouse.
He pushed his weight forward, hoping he could slide on his stomach back to shore but when the ice broke apart he was stuck hanging on for his life.
“With all the heavy clothes I had on and once they got wet it was pulling me down so heavy that all I could do was stay afloat with my arms out over the ice,” said Stackhouse. “Started thinking maybe this is it. and then I heard someone coming up from the side from me and it happened to be Whittney.”
Stackhouse’s neighbor Whittney Pfefferkorn, 16, was home alone that day. She was taking a nap when her dogs, Roscoe and Daisy, started barking and woke her up. Then, something else caught her attention.
“I could hear something but I didn’t know what it was,” said Pfefferkorn. “I stepped outside because I couldn’t hear exactly what they were saying and I heard that he was saying ‘help me, I need help.'”
Pfefferkorn said it was not just her that played a role in helping Stackhouse. She could not see anything at first, and called her dad who suggested she check the pond while he called 9-1-1. That is when she saw Stackhouse. She then got her mom on the phone to help her through the scary situation. Her mom told her to go down to the water see if Stackhouse was alright.
“I went out there and then shortly after that we heard sirens,” said Pfefferkorn.
The Hamilton Police arrived first to help followed the volunteer fire department. Medical Office Steve King said instances like this are proof that ice fishing alone is a huge risk.
“If you’re out by yourself and you fall in, you’re going to die,” said King. “If you’re out with somebody then they can get to shore at least get you some help.”
Hamilton Fire Chief Chris Manahan said Pfefferkorn’s quick action is the reason Stackhouse is still alive today.
“It’s probably been 10 minutes at least before we got there,” said Manahan. “Her actions and Jeremy’s and then us saved the man’s life. He’s lucky.”
Lucky, especially because Pfefferkorn was not even supposed to be home that day.
“Like a lot of plans fell through that day where I wasn’t supposed to be home at all that day. I just feel like it was God’s work, the way that I was home and able to help him because if I wasn’t home, it could’ve ended differently.”
To say thanks, Stackhouse gifted Pfefferkorn a check to donate to the charity of her choosing as well as a box of treats to thank Roscoe and Daisy for their role in saving his life. He said he cannot see himself returning to ice fishing for awhile or ever going by himself again but he is grateful to Pfefferkorn, her family, and the first responders for saving his life.