A cat came close to cashing in its nine lives Christmas Eve after falling into an icy lake, but a Wabash College wrestler dived in to rescue it.
Darden Schurg, 21, of Crown Point, was visiting his father in Hobart on Monday when a family breakfast turned into a rescue mission on Lake George.
Schurg's family took video of the rescue and posted it on Facebook on Monday. The video, created and edited by Schurg's sisters-in-law Hilda and Tabitha Schurg, has more than 23,000 views and has been shared more than 400 times.
The video begins by proclaiming that Hobart has its own "Aquaman."
Schurg, a Wabash College wrestler, said the nickname has started to stick a little.
"It's more jokingly than anything, but I'll take it," he said with a laugh.
Schurg and his family saw a cat walking on the thin ice of Lake George in Hobart that morning. Suddenly, the ice gave in and the cat fell into the freezing pond.
The family, who was watching from their kitchen windows, ran outside to the water's edge.
In the beginning of the video, the cat can be seen struggling to pull itself out of the icy water.
"We didn't know if he'd make it," Schurg said. "He kept on busting through the ice and couldn't get through."
Schurg then jumped in the pond in his undershorts, knowing the feline didn't have long before succumbing to the freezing water.
"At first I felt like I was in shock. I forgot how to swim," Schurg said. "But the adrenaline kicked in, and I think that helped a lot."
Amid the shouts of those around him, Schurg swam to the drowning cat. Finally reaching the feline, Schurg picked the cat up and carried it to the nearby shore before hoisting himself out of the pond.
Due to the broken ice, Schurg walked away with scratches and scrapes on his hands, head and chest.
"Once I got out of the water I looked down and I was covered in blood," Schurg said. "My hands were all chewed up from the ice. It took a few hours to get the feeling back in my fingers."
Schurg said the cat warmed up and dried off before walking away unscathed.
He said the distance between where he jumped and the opposite shore is about 40 yards of icy water. Schurg cautioned others that safety comes first in rescue situations involving ice and cold water. Because he knew his surroundings well and had a group of people watching him, he ultimately made the decision to dive in.
"Honestly I feel like I would do it again. It was sort of a heat of the moment thing," Schurg said, "though I'd rather have long sleeves on so I don't get cut up as bad from the ice."