After wrapping little Barbara tightly, Sophia went out for a walk. She went to Lake Park, Minnesota. The weather wasn’t the best these days, but it was generally bearable for walking. Winter would soon be upon us, and we would have to postpone our walks until spring.
Sophia wanted to meet her friend Diana and her dog in the park. First, she stopped by her favorite coffee shop to buy herself a pumpkin spice latte and a hot chocolate for Diane. Quickly managing her purchase, she soon found herself in the park.
The friends had made an appointment to meet at a bench on the lake shore. There they could have a quiet chat. Diana saw a friend approaching with a stroller and waved to her. Sophia realized from the dog’s hanging tongue that Diana had come to the park a long time ago.
“Hi! Sorry I got held up. I was wrapping Barbara up, I didn’t think it would be this windy today,” Sofia greeted her friend.
“It’s okay. Sparky and I played and I admired the scenery. The lake is almost frozen over. Winter is coming,” Diana replied.
“Yeah, but the ice is still thin, it’s still not frosty enough. Let’s sit down. Well, what did you want to tell me about?”, Sophia asked, setting the stroller next to the bench. The friends sat down to chat, and Sparky snuggled up next to his mistress.
Diane began to share the details of her life, and Sofia listened intently to her friend. During their conversation they did not notice that a gusty wind came up. They were talking for another 10 minutes, when their conversation was interrupted by Sparky’s loud barking. “Sit down, Sparky!”, Diana commanded the dog without even looking at the animal.
But the dog didn’t stop barking. Sparky got up from his seat and barked at the lake. At this point Sophia decided to see how Barbara was doing, but the stroller was nowhere near her!
“Oh, my God!”, exclaimed Diane loudly. Sophia looked at her friend, who was pointing toward the lake.
The stroller rolled right up to the lake and stood on the thin ice. “Barbara!” cried Sophia and rushed toward the stroller. Diana barely had time to hold onto her friend.
“Stop, Sophia! You can’t go in there. The ice is too thin. It won’t hold you! I’m surprised the ice is still holding the stroller,” Diana said.
“But that’s where my baby is. I can’t leave her there!” cried Sophia hysterically.
“No, we have to call 911. Better yet, I’ll call the park rangers. They should know the best way to proceed,” with these words Diana ran toward the entrance. Sparky ran after his mistress. Sophia stood on the bank with tears in her eyes and looked at the stroller.
“What have I done?!” she cried to herself. At this time an elderly man approached her, with a cane in his hands.
“Miss, what happened? Don’t stand so close, it could be dangerous,” he addressed Sophia.
“Yes, I know, sir. But that’s my baby in there. The stroller was carried away by the wind, and I was so engrossed in the conversation that I didn’t notice it. I’m a terrible mother!” said Sophia, looking at the man in anger.
“Gee, we’ve got to act or the stroller will break the ice. Don’t worry, miss. I’m Captain Dominic Koch. I was a fireman for 40 years before I retired. I know what to do,” pronounced the older man.
“No, sir! It could be dangerous!”, Sophia tried to stop the man, but Mr. Koch had already stepped onto the ice.
“Don’t worry! I’ll move very slowly,” the man assured her. With small steps, but quite confident and deftly, he moved quietly toward the stroller, leaning on his cane. The situation seemed to be under control. Suddenly the ice under the stroller began to crack.
“No!”, Sophia shouted loudly.
“Ma’am, stay calm,” Mr. Koch tried to reassure Sophia. Then he dropped to his knees and sprawled out on the ice. He cautiously began to crawl toward the stroller, when suddenly there was a cracking sound. The stroller tilted to the side.
At that moment, little Barbara’s crying sounded, and Sophia became even more hysterical. “Barbara, my girl! Mommy’s here, I’m coming to you!”, Sophia shouted and rushed to the ice, but Diana managed to grab her.
“Wait! Are you crazy? The ice is already cracked. What is a man doing? This is very risky!”, Diana tried to hold her friend.
“The stroller is about to sink, Diana! My little girl is in there!” cried Sophia hysterically and rushed toward her daughter.
But Diana held her tightly. By this time Mr. Koch had gotten close enough to the stroller to grab hold of it with his cane and keep it from falling over. At that moment the rangers, whom Diane had called for, arrived. One of them rushed to Mr. Koch’s aid.
The second ranger decided to approach the stroller from the other side so that the ice wouldn’t crack even more. He was able to grab hold of the baby carriage and pull it to the very edge of the lake. Sophia instantly grabbed Barbara and held her daughter tightly to her.
The rangers helped Mr. Koch to the shore. “Thank you! Thank you! You can’t imagine how grateful I am! I am eternally indebted to you,” Sophia wailed, rocking the frightened child in her arms.
“Glad to have helped, ma’am,” Mr. Koch said, smiling. According to the rangers, had it not been for Mr. Koch, the stroller would have gone down before they arrived to help. Diane thanked the park rangers, and they returned to their post.
Mr. Koch was about to leave, too, but Diane detained the man. “Sir, may I buy you a hot chocolate? You just saved a little girls’ life. It’s only a small part of what we can do for you,” Diana said.
“Thank you, ma’am. You don’t have to. For several years this was my regular job. And in retirement I began to forget why I had once chosen the profession of firefighter. Thank you for reminding me of that. But be more careful in the future!” replied Mr. Koch, laughing, and left.