A Tuolumne County boy saved a young girl from drowning Thursday afternoon at Cedar Ridge Lake, according to family members who witnessed the rescue.

Henry Herd, 15, of Crystal Falls, was at the lake with his family to celebrate his niece's and nephew's birthdays when the incident occurred about 3 p.m.

"I was just swimming and my dad was by me and I just heard gasps of air and someone from the shore yelling, 'Grab her!' " he said. "I don't think the sister who was with her knew what was happening or was just scared, so I dove out and picked her up."

Herd had to swim out about 15 to 20 feet to reach the struggling little girl, who looked to be between 3 and 6 years old, according to the boy's grandmother, Pam Herd.

"All of a sudden, the girl's father was yelling out, 'Get my little girl! Get my little girl!' " she said. "Henry was in the area with a bunch of kids, so he turned around and scooped her up. Her face was staying above water, but she was struggling and you could clearly tell she was in a problem."

Henry's father, Adam Herd, said the girl was in shallow water and may have hit a spot where the lake's floor suddenly dropped off.

Adam Herd said the girl's parents "tore in from the shore" and her father gave Henry a "big high five" when he reached them.

"I'm proud of him," Adam Herd said. "He's always been a good swimmer and great with children."

Henry Herd, who attends Thomas Downey High School in Modesto, where he lives part-time with his mother, has two younger sisters, one 4 and the other 13 months.

"I just felt like that would be what anybody would do in that moment," Henry said.

Amid the chaos, the Herds didn't catch the girl's or any of her family members' names. Adam Herd recalled them saying they were from out of the area and couldn't remember the exact location when interviewed Friday, but that it was somewhere in the Central Valley.

"He's an all-around great kid," Herd said of his son. "I don't think he would have ever hesitated over doing the right thing. I was proud that he was there at the right place and the right time, and he was pretty humble about it. It was good to see."