SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — A model from San Clemente was hailed as a hero after saving seven boys from drowning in an frozen lake in New York City.

Bennett Jonas, 23, said he was riding his skateboard with his friend, Ethan Turnbull, 24, Monday night near a lake in Central Park when they saw the boys walking out onto thin ice to take selfies and falling into the frigid water.

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He immediately jumped in to save them. “I just had to grab them and as hard as I could pull and as hard as I could get them out. It’s do or die. My chest was closing up. I couldn’t breathe. We were all sinking down and we were all holding on to each other,” Jonas recalled. “The last kid I grabbed, I either went after him and grabbed him or he would not be here.”

The boys’ families called Jonas and Turnbull heroes for saving their sons’ lives.

“Everybody who knows him knows that he’s just the guy,” Jonas’ younger brother, Cameron, told CBS2’s Stacey Butler at  their home in San Clemente.

Jonas, an Orange County native who grew up surfing all over the world, told his little brother he was still shaken.

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“He said once he got out to the kids, he was like chest-deep, and the kids pulled him in and pulled him under the water. He’s like almost 6’3″, hefty. So he was grabbing them and throwing the little kids onto shore,” and to his friend, Cameron said.

The last boy was completely submerged. He regained consciousness after Jonas pulled him to safety.

Bennett is pursuing a modeling and acting career in New York.

Cameron said his big brother is too humble to let all the hero talk go to his head. He just hopes it helps launch his career.

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“I texted him and said: ‘Dude, this could be it. This could be your big break!'” Cameron added.