January 27, 2012 / 7:30 PM / 6 years ago

New Hampshire principal saves autistic boy from icy river

(Reuters) - A New Hampshire elementary school principal rescued an autistic boy from a frozen river after he fell through the ice while running away from school at the end of a recess, authorities said on Friday.

Principal Gwen Rhodes chased the student through woods near Gonic School on the outskirts of Rochester, New Hampshire, after he ran away on Wednesday following an outdoor recess, Lieutenant Dennis Dube of the Rochester Fire Department said.

The boy walked most of the way across the frozen Cocheco River before falling through a section of thin ice, he said. Rhodes was able to reach him and pull the two of them up an embankment using tree branches, Dube said.

“They were both up to their chests in water,” he said.

Police had arrived and given blankets to Rhodes and the student by the time firefighters reached the scene, Dube said. The student was taken to a hospital and released after being treated for exposure.

“(Rhodes) saved us from performing a very technical rescue,” he said. “We’re calling it a very brave act. Normally we don’t condone such a thing, but she was stuck in a hard place there.”

Rhodes did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. School officials declined to identify the student or provide further details.

Reporting By Daniel Lovering; Editing by Cynthia Johnston

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