(WEAU) - "I thought I was dead at that point," said Ethan Utt who nearly drown eight years ago.
Ethan Utt was only 4 years old when he nearly drowned.
It was along the waters at Riverview Beach that a day of swimming almost turned into a day of tragedy.
But now 12 years old he says he looks back on the day often.
"Kind of painful to know the fact that you might die right then and there and the fact that your life flashes before your eyes and its pretty short," said Ethan.
But the man who saved Ethan has always been a mystery, until now. John Melander, who saved Ethan, recently shared his story with his friend Kathleen who knows Ethan's family.
"I went oh my gosh, and I told him and I just kind of stopped and I went I know those people," said Kathleen Evertsen, who reunited John and Ethan.
On the day of the accident, John says he and a group of people jumped in the water to search for Ethan after a woman screamed that he went under.
"So I'm swimming along the bottom and I just happen to grab his shorts and I put him up over my head and I started walking him out of the water," said John Melander, Ethan’s rescuer.
Ethan was found nine feet underwater. He had been under water for 5 minutes but luckily an off duty fireman was there to do CPR.
"See that the fact that I’m still alive and when I feel like sad and down I'm here at least and I at least have a good family," said Ethan.
Saturday’s rainy day turned into a day of hugs and smiles for family and friends.
"I'm just elated, last thing I ever want to see is something happen to a child, obviously,” said Melander.
"Be able to bring such important people in my life together in such an amazing way is awesome," said Evertsen
"To see what he’s grown into. To finally meet the man, one of the people who was there to save him. I’m grateful, very grateful,” said Sena Utt, Ethan’s mom.