6-year-old girl, trapped in icy pond, saved by stranger

Posted at 11:57 PM, Feb 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-05 00:01:27-05

Taking his dog Sienna for an afternoon stroll, Ian Whittle answered the cries for help.

"I was at a Super Bowl party and going to walk my dog,” Whittle said. “As we were walking down, I heard children screaming."

A 6-year-old girl was 30 feet out on a frozen pond off Kimberly Lane in Spotsylvania County.  The ice had given way and she was treading water.

Whittle, a criminal defense attorney says her rescue was far more stressful than anything he’s dealt with in the courtroom.

"As soon as I got there, she started to go under,” he said. “It was scary."

Whittle, ignoring his own safety, headed out onto the ice. He fell in about 15 feet out and swam to save little Taylor.

Her mother,  who didn't want CBS 6 to show her face, says he's nothing shy of a hero.  "We appreciate him being not only the right place at the right time, but the fact he went out there when so many others turn the other way nowadays,” she said.  “He's a hero."

With three days of thawing, temperatures have been above freezing in Spotsylvania but there's still a thin layer of ice on the pond.  Firefighters and rescue personnel are urging parents to keep kids from playing on the ice because they will fall in.

At home through the woods from the pond Tuesday, little Taylor was nervous when speaking to us, but she did want to say this to Ian Whittle.

"Thank you," she said.

Those are two words, one criminal attorney in Spotsylvania says he’ll carry with him forever, saving a young life and doing it by remembering lifesaving techniques he learned when growing up.

"I had a little training years and years ago when I was a Boy Scout,” Whittle said.  “And that no doubt helped me keep myself afloat, and her afloat."