PROSPECT PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A boy says he jumped into a quarry to beat the heat, but suddenly could barely keep his head above water.
Now, he’s thanking the men who saved him. Exclusive video of the dramatic rescue shows officers risking their lives to save the teenager in Passaic County.
Fencing surrounding a large piece of property with a spring water quarry didn’t stop a group of teens from exploring the area Saturday. One teen tells CBS2’s Meg Baker he got the shock of his life.
On Monday, Jeremiah Surak shook hands with the brave officers from Haledon and Prospect Park, New Jersey who rescued him after a daring jump nearly turned deadly Saturday night. The exclusive video obtained by CBS2 shows the four officers struggling to pull the eighth grader to land, telling him to paddle his feet.
“I didn’t realize how deep the water is,” Surak said. “It was really hot out so I thought it was a good idea to go for a swim.”
His friend Zander Colon tried to coach him to climb the rocks to get out.
“I was hysterical before police came,” Surak said. “I was hyperventilating with shock of how deep the water was.”
Authorities say the 911 call came in around 7:30 p.m.
“We acted on pure instinct,” Haledon Police Department John Bonilla said. “We had to get in that water to get him out as fast as possible as well as ourselves.”
To get down into the quarry, officers scaled a fence and took flight.
“If he wasn’t coming out breathing neither were we,” Prospect Park Police Officer Arthur Canestrino said.
Two of the officers had to zig-zag down an embankment for more than a mile just to reach the 15-year-old.
“He jumped off a ledge straight down into the water,” Patrolman Bonilla said. “When he hit the water the shock kicked me in and he couldn’t move.”
It was 83 degrees that day, but the natural spring water below was cripplingly cold — barely 40 degrees. Surak says he tried to hold onto the slippery rocks.
“Once we got about half way, panic started to set in and it was tough keeping our heads and the victims head above water,” Officer Canestrino said.
The first responders remember the victim pleading with them to save him, unable to swim.
“Thank God everyone is okay,” Surak’s father Michael said. “I didn’t get a chance to thank the officers. I thank them very much.”
“I’m very thankful for the officers who that saved me,” the eighth grader said.
His father hopes this is a lesson for all, and the officers say they have one simple piece of advice; if there is a fence, it’s there for a reason. Don’t go in.