An Eighth Grader Saves a Life

updated 03/03/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/03/2008 AT 01:00 AM EST

Jared Vigil, 14
Louisville, Colo.

When Jared Vigil was sent home from school with an upset stomach Feb. 6, he thought he'd spend the afternoon resting. As he headed to his house, however, his thoughts of a quiet convalescence were interrupted by screams and barking coming from an ice-covered lake in a neighborhood park. Sprinting ahead, cell phone in hand, Jared saw what he thought was a little girl, up to her neck in water and crying. Dialing 911, he called for help, then jogged out on the ice, extended his canvas backpack straps, threw her the pack and calmly hauled her out. "I figured, if I went in too, help was on its way, so it didn't really matter," Jared says. Only then did he recognize the person he'd saved was Connie Ostwald, 48, a mom whose two daughters he'd known since fourth grade. She'd fallen through the ice attempting to rescue her white Laborador Willow, who had broken away from her to chase ducks. Ostwald had managed to push the dog out of the water, tossing a tennis ball to lure the pooch to safer ground. "But there was no way I was getting out by myself," says Ostwald, who had already started to feel numb when Jared came along. "He truly saved my life." Louisville fire chief Tim Parker agrees: "What he did was above and beyond." Now the grateful Ostwald and her husband, Ty, have started an educational fund for Jared, an only child being raised by his single mom and who hopes to become a sports analyst. "Before, we were friends," says an equally thankful Jared. "Now we're like family."

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