(KTTC) -- A 13-year-old Stewartville boy is regarded as a hero after saving his best friend's father from a near-death experience.
Seth Helberg became a drowning survivor after he dropped the boat keys while vacationing on Mille Lacs Lake.
"Went to kill the boat motor and doing so the keys fell out the ignition," he said. "I made a poor decision and decided to strip down and jump into the lake and get the keys they were only about six feet or so from the boat."
Although Helberg can swim, the lake's current and waves pushed him farther out, as his son and his son's friend watched.
"I was freaking out. I was tempted to jump in the water and help him. But I didn't know how to swim at all," said Julian Peterson, Helberg's son.
Julian called his mom as he saw his dad struggle in the water.
"'Mom he's drowning. He's drowning. We can't see him. We can't see him. Mom help.' And I jump out of bed," said Rachel Peterson, Julian's mother.
The struggle with the current left Helberg exhausted as he tried to stay afloat
"It got pretty scary out there. At one point, I yelled out the boat to tell Rachel and the kids I loved them. Because I thought it was gonna be about the last time that I talked to any of them," he said.
But his "lifesaver" was his son's best friend, Sawyer King.
"I was there bobbing in the water and I noticed Sawyer jump into the lake with a life jacket on and carrying a life jacket," Helberg said.
"He didn't even hesitate. He just jumped in. He was in the water with the life jacket swimming as hard as he could go. He didn't even bat an eye," said Michelle King, Sawyer's mother. "He goes, 'Mom I really didn't think I was going to get there. Every time I swam closer it seems like the waves pulled him farther away from him.' He goes, 'It was exhausting.'"
This experience has Helberg looking at life from a new lens, all because of his brave young hero.
"Thank you for saving my life. I told him if it wasn't for him. I probably wouldn't be here anymore. They would have been pulling my body out of the lake," Helberg said.
Sawyer's mother said he says it felt good to save Helberg's life and is now interested in taking lifeguard lessons.