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'He wouldn't give up': Hero boy follows hunch to save elderly woman

Jan. 30, 2014 at 10:56 AM ET

Danny DiPietro helped saved Kathleen St. Onge's life when he saw something unusual in an open garage out of the corner of his eye.
Sandy St. Onge-Mitter, Dawn DiPi
Danny DiPietro helped saved Kathleen St. Onge's life when he saw something unusual in an open garage out of the corner of his eye.

Ten-year-old Danny DiPietro was on his way home from lacrosse practice with his dad on Saturday night when he thought he spotted a dog lying in the open garage of a condo complex near his home in Howell, Mich.

“It was really cold out and something didn’t seem right,” Danny told TODAY.com.

DiPietro’s parents assured him that no one would leave their dog out on such a frigid evening, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. After a bit of prodding, his mom, Dawn, agreed to investigate the garage for him.

“He wouldn’t give up,” Dawn, 44, told TODAY.com. “Thankfully, he was persistent.”

As Dawn walked up the driveway, she realized what Danny had seen was actually an elderly woman lying on the ground, waving her gloveless hands in the air for help.

The woman, 80-year-old Kathleen St. Onge, had been stuck in below-freezing temperatures for an hour and a half after slipping on a patch of ice in her garage. To make matters worse, she had lost her gloves and shoes in an attempt to scoot herself to the front of the garage, where she thought she would be spotted more easily. And a bitter wind was carrying snow inside.

“She said she had prayed to the Blessed Mother that someone would help her and find her,” St. Onge’s daughter Sandy St. Onge-Mitter told TODAY.com. “She knew she only had about an hour left. She thought she would be gone.”

Dawn immediately ran home and called 911. The DiPietros and a neighbor came back with blankets and chatted with St. Onge while she warmed up. When police arrived, she was rushed to a nearby hospital.

“I was amazed,” Danny said. “I just felt really good that she was okay.”

St. Onge was released on Wednesday afternoon after being treated for hypothermia and dehydration. Doctors told her family that she would not have survived an hour longer in the extreme cold.

“She’s grateful,” St. Onge-Mitter said. “She knows that if it wasn’t for Danny's persistency, she probably wouldn’t be here today. So he is a hero.”

St. Onge has yet to meet Danny in person, but her daughter says she “can’t wait.” The DiPietros had an opportunity to meet St. Onge-Mitter on Tuesday during an interview for local television.

“It was very emotional,” St. Onge-Mitter said. “Danny’s a remarkable boy, but his family should also be getting a lot of credit. They acted on his hunch. It was a family affair.”

The two families plan on staying in touch.

“We’ve made a life-long friend,” St. Onge-Mitter said.

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