80-year-old Homewood mayor falls into frozen lake while rescuing dog

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HOMEWOOD, Ill. — A good Samaritan helped save an 80-year-old Illinois mayor after he fell through thin ice trying to save his dog from a lake.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said he was walking his dogs with his wife on Sunday at Izaak Walton Preserve in the southern suburb of Chicago when their dog fell into a frozen lake. He had left his cellphone in his vehicle and couldn’t call for help.

“There had been a shelf of ice from the shore about 30 feet out, and beyond that was open water and she had gone across that shelf of ice and was in the water,” Hofeld said.

Hofeld also fell into the lake. He was able to lift his 100-pound dog out of the water, but couldn’t save himself. He said a man jogging called 911, then created a makeshift rope using his shirt and the couple’s jackets.

“Every time I tried to get up onto the ice, the ice broke and I went under,” he said. “I was just treading water.”

The man was trying to pull Hofled out of the water when emergency responders arrived. Divers rescued Hofled. Officials said he had been in the freezing water for 20 minutes.

Hofled was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated for hypothermia and minor scrapes and bruises. He was held overnight for observation.

Hofled said the jogger left the scene before anyone could get his name.

“He really saved my life. I don’t know what we would have done had he not shown up,” he said.