Lancaster Co. boy, 5, rescued from Catawba River - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Lancaster Co. boy, 5, rescued from Catawba River

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We're hearing from the 5-year-old Lancaster County boy who was stranded in the Catawba River for nearly two hours in the freezing cold, Wednesday night, as his father went to get help.

Little Connor Dixon is all smiles now, but that wasn't the case Wednesday night.

That's when Connor, his dad Dennis and their dog Diesel went for their typical walk along the Catawba River near the Nitrolee dam.

"It's nothing new. We go out the fishing," said Dennis Dixon.

Despite warning signs of rapid water rise, the three headed out and as the evening continued, the river began to swell and currents picked up.

"Next thing you know, all the bigger gaps that we had to leap across they were all washed away and there's two feet of water coming out of the walls now and we were stuck," said Dixon.

"I was hungry and I was cold," said Connor.

That's when Dixon says the only way the three would survive is if he left Connor and the dog on a tree, while he swam for help.

"Man I've done two tours in two different countries and that was the toughest decision I had to make," said Dixon.

"My dad told me if the dog gets off of the thing (the tree), no matter what, don't get off," said Connor.

Dixon eventually swam to shore and flagged down help.

It took nearly 2 hours for rescue squads to find Connor, but thanks to a reflective collar around Diesel's neck, rescuers spotted the two in the dark.

It was a frightening experience for all three, but one that made Dixon realize a higher power was looking out for him and his family.

"I don't know if you're a believer or not, but I can tell you somebody is definitely out there. You can call him what you want, but he was there with me last night," said Dixon.

Other than the dog's reflective collar, Chester County rescue squads used thermal tracking technology to help track down Connor.

He was airlifted to CMC in Charlotte after being rescued, but went home later that night.

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