When teen falls through ice, good Samaritan comes to rescue
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (KCRA) —
A teenager fell through the ice at Lake Baron, just outside South Lake Tahoe, Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, this accident did not end in tragedy thanks to some good Samaritans.
The 13-year-old was walking his bike across the frozen lake when the ice gave in beneath him.
“It seemed solid the first couple times I’ve walked on it, and this one time I hit that patch and fell under,” the boy explained. “I was pretty scared at first because I would try to get up out of the hole and the ice would keep breaking under my hands and I wasn’t able to get up.”
Luckily, a family nearby came to the rescue.
“We saw him out on the ice walking his bike, and my sister-in-law was immediately worried, immediately scared, because she is from here and she said he shouldn’t be out there,” Ian Whitmarsh said. “She screamed and said, ‘He’s in the water.’”
Whitmarsh then weighed whether to take on the dangerous conditions, given the thawing ice.
“My wife said, ‘you have to do something,’” Whitmarsh said. “He saw me and he yelled to me, ‘Help me, please!’ And at that point I got on my belly and I belly crawled to him.”
The Lake Valley Fire Department doesn’t recommend trying to rescue someone. Often times, the rescuer also becomes the victim.
"If you look at the lake, it looks completely froze,” Lake Valley Fire Department spokesperson Johnathan Coats said. “But with these rapid, fluctuating temps, it fluctuates every day."
Luckily, both made it to land safely, each suffering minor cuts on their arms trying to crawl through the ice.
“I was terrified at the idea of even going out there. The whole thing,” Whitmarsh said. “There was never a moment where I felt that this was going fine, until we were fully off the ice.”
The fire department transported the teen to the hospital to get treatment for severe hypothermia.
“Usually when you are out skiing, it’s just like your arms and your hands,” the boy said. “But it was like inside of me, it was really cold. And I couldn’t think clearly, I was like, ‘oh, my God.’”
“We got the shirt off of him, and just put all the jackets that we had, and we hugged him to make as much body warmth as possible,” Whitmarsh said.
The two reunited for the first time Thursday at Lake Baron.
“I just feel so relieved that he is all right and he is good,” Whitmarsh said. “My heart goes out to him.”
The Lake Valley Fire Department wants this to serve as a cautionary reminder to not travel along any ice. The warning also goes to pets. Emergency responses have been made for dogs falling through the ice while playing catch.