When Illinois paramedic Todd Zobrist jumped into freezing waters to check inside a submerged car, he didn't expect to find a 3-month-old baby.
Zobrist, 31, is now being called a hero after his quick actions saved the infant’s life on Thursday.
“I got to meet him yesterday. I got to hold him and play with him,” Zobrist told InsideEdition.com Monday. "It went really well."
According to the Gazette, a witness called police after seeing an SUV drive down a hill and into Silver Lake. Zobrist, who works for the Highland Fire Department, showed up to the scene at 5:30 a.m.
Zobrist, another paramedic and two police officers realized they didn’t have time to wait for fellow rescuers so Zobrist wasted no time jumping into the lake to see if anyone was trapped inside the vehicle.
After a 75-foot swim in 29-degree weather, Zobrist reached the vehicle, which he said was filled with water up to the windshield. After looking around, he noticed what he thought was a doll in the pitch black water.
“The water level was like up to your head if you were sitting in the driver seat. I take my arm and I reach and I didn’t find anything. When I looked in the back I saw a car seat,” Zobrist told InsideEdition.com. “When I took a second look I saw two feet and two hands. They looked bluish, purple.”
Zobrist said he grabbed the baby’s foot and pulled him onto the roof of the car.
“I think I was completely shocked. I was expecting to find an adult. I was caught off guard that it was a baby. The training just kicked in,” Zobrist said.
He said he started performing CPR on the infant who spat up some water and then started breathing. Zobrist knew he didn’t have time to wait for rescuers to come.
“I was concerned for the state he was in. I knew he was in more danger than me because he had been out there longer and I was freezing,” Zobrist said
It was then that Zobrist held the baby against his left arm, making sure to keep him above water, and did the backstroke to the shore.
“He started breathing 100 percent on his own. We started warming him up,” Zobrist said.
Police found the baby’s mother, Cristy Campbell, dead in the lake five hours later. His father, Justin Campbell, was also reportedly found dead with a gunshot wound to the head inside a nearby house. The property had been on fire, according to reports.
An SUV was spotted leaving the home where Cristy had lived with her seven kids as well as her ex-husband, Capt. Mike Dixon of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department told People.com.
A gun was also found in the SUV but it is unknown if it was used in the shooting, reports said.
The couple’s six other children, aged 4 to 14 years old, reportedly escaped the burning house and were not physically injured. The infant was transferred to a hospital and later released.
All seven children were placed with relatives, according to reports.
Zobrist was later treated in the hospital for hypothermia as well.
"Just another day on the job," Zobrist said.