ALBANY, VT (WCAX/CNN) – A fifth-grader received an award Monday for leaping into action when his friend fell in a septic tank.

Quinnlan Kittson, 10, visited his friends, the Danahers, April 8 with his mom and his two siblings. It was 11-year-old Hannah Danaher’s birthday.

The moms went inside the house while the kids played in the backyard, and that’s when the unthinkable happened.

Hannah fell in the backyard septic tank.

“I jumped on top of the septic tank cover, and it just flipped behind my back and I fell in. I put my hands out, and when they got me out, there were nail marks in the ground from me trying to hold myself up,” Hannah said.

The top of the tank was not properly secured. The suction from the tank began pulling Hannah down as she screamed for help.

“I thought I was going to die,” Hannah said.

Quinnlan rushed into action.

“I heard her scream, so I ran over just to see what’s wrong. I got scared when I first saw she was actually in a hole, so I told her not to let go of the rim and I just grabbed onto her arm while she was doing that and started pulling her up,” he said.

The boy ordered Hannah’s younger brother to go get the moms. They arrived outside to a horrifying sight.

“Quinnlan’s arms were in the water. You could see the claw marks on the grass where she was falling in. So, it was definitely, easily the most traumatic moment for both Shannon and myself and the children,” said Tabatha Kittson, Quinnlan’s mom.

Quinnlan and the moms were able to pull Hannah to safety.

Once Hannah was safely in the house, the moms took a stick that was about 6 feet long and put it in the hole to see how deep the tank was. They say the stick wasn’t long enough to reach the bottom of the tank.

The moms say if it weren’t for Quinnlan’s quick actions, the story could have a very different ending.

The 10-year-old was honored Monday in front of his elementary school classmates for his quick action and bravery.

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