HOPEWELL, N.J. — A daring police officer volunteered to go out onto the ice during a snow storm to rescue a drowning dog, with faith that his colleague and best friend would be able to pull them both out.
“I trust him with my life,” Hopewell Township Police Officer Robert Voorhees said of his partner, Officer George Peterson.
When the officers arrived at a home on Pennington Harbourton Road on Dec. 15, they knew they had to act fast. Nisel, a 1-year-old Rottweiler, had fallen though thin ice and could not get out.
"I saw the dog go under for about five seconds and come back up and I knew we couldn’t wait,” Voorhees said.
Peterson said they could tell the dog was getting tired.
“She was not gonna last longer,” Peterson said.
Carolyn Wooley, the dog’s owner, said Nisel was playing in the backyard when she fell through the ice. Nisel is a working farm dog in training and she loves to swim, but she’s still learning about the ice.
"I tried to get her out, but there was no way I could,” Wooley said. “It was just frozen too far out."
After Wooley called 911, she said the fire department was the first to respond with a blow-up boat.
"But it takes time,” she said, "and I’m watching them get it out and blowing it up and I was really getting more and more panicked that by the time they blew up the raft, that it would be too late.”
That’s when Voorhees and Peterson jumped into action.
Video taken from Peterson’s body camera shows Voorhees crawling out onto the ice on his chest. A rope is tied around his waist. Peterson held on tight to the other end of the rope. Voorhees said he felt the freezing cold water seeping through his clothes, but he knew he just had to keep inching closer to the dog.
"It was not a good night to be outside. It was cold. It was snowing. It was probably 28 degrees,” Peterson said.
Wooley can be heard yelling to her pup in the background on the video: "He's coming, Nisel!"
Luckily, Voorhees grabbed ahold of Nisel’s collar without falling through the ice himself. He pulled the dog out of the water and Peterson pulled them both to safety.
"It was extremely brave. It was a totally, you know, no thought to himself and his safety. He could have been pulled in by the dog,” Wooley said.
After being pulled from the pond, Nisel shivered for hours. Her tail is still a little sore from the incident, but other than that, she is a happy, healthy dog.