Chief Mike Foligno of the Elmwood Park Police Department and a firefighter used a kayak to pull the mother and toddler off of the river. (Photo: NorthJersey.com Screen Shot)  -

Chief Mike Foligno of the Elmwood Park Police Department and a firefighter used a kayak to pull the mother and toddler off of the river. (Photo: NorthJersey.com Screen Shot) 

A New Jersey police chief rescued a mother and her 2-year-old daughter from a frozen river Thursday.

Chief Mike Foligno of the Elmwood Park Police Department was filling out paperwork at his desk Thursday afternoon when he heard the call go out that “someone saw a body or two in the river.” Rushing into action, he got to the marina on River Drive and saw the 37-year-old woman and the toddler in the water.

A gas station attendant from across the street brought over a plastic kayak, so he jumped in on his knees and tried to push himself out onto the river with a shovel.

“It wasn’t working, though, so I lay down on my stomach and just started digging into the ice with my fingers to claw my way out. It felt like eternity with her screaming,” Foligno told NorthJersey.com

When he reached the pair, he tried to grab the child and bring her into the kayak, but she kept clinging to her mother.

Foligno finally got the girl into the kayak, and she was very listless. He then pulled the woman to safety and got her to lie down to maintain balance. She was still panicked, and kept screaming that they were going to die, he said.

About 25 minutes later, the Fire Department arrived, and one of the firefighters put on a wetsuit to walk out into the frigid water and pull the trio in the kayak to shore.

Foligno called the ordeal “physically and emotionally draining” and advised that residents should “never ever ever go on ice.”

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