Firefighters rescue 2 teen boys who fell through ice on Lake Serene
LYNNWOOD, Wash. -- Two 15-year-old boys who fell through a frozen Lake Serene were rescued by firefighters Wednesday afternoon.
Dive teams and rescue crews raced to the Lynnwood lake just after 3:30 p.m. after getting a report that two teens walking along the ice had fallen through about halfway out toward the middle of the lake.
David Erickson with Snohomish County Fire District No. 1 was stationed across the street and says he and his team was out on the ice just minutes after the first call.
"Certainly a long way to be from shore to be on the ice," Erickson said.
Erickson said one of the teens had managed to climb back onto the ice, but on his way back to shore, fell through a second time. He did manage to get out again and make it back to shore. But the other boy was still in the water.
As firefighters made their way across the brittle ice, neighbor Pamla Penning took photos from her back porch.
She said she saw one boy nearly listless being cradled by a rescue swimmer.
"Terrible concern of course," said Penning. "A heightened sense of alertness of, 'is there anything I can possibly do to help?'"
Rescuers said they likely reached the boy just in time.
"(He) had some hypothermia and couldn't get out," Erickson said. "He barely recognized that I was there, he was very hypothermic. He was able to follow very simple commands but not able to extract himself from the ice."
"His weight was shifting and he couldn't help himself," said Penning. "He was really in trouble."
"He needed assistance with even the simplest of tasks," Erickson said, "from getting the lifejacket on to getting on the rescue board. In essence, he was exhausted and was hypothermic."
Crews estimated the boy spent about 28 minutes in the water.
"(It's) very difficult to survive out there in street clothes and boots," Erickson said.
Both were taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Their exact condition is not known but officials with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office said both were conscious and alert.
Officials said firefighters had just been training for ice rescues a short distance away earlier in the day.
"We have a couple of stations here that have water rescue and ice rescue equipment, and this station here on Lake Serene is one of them," Erickson said. "When conditions get cold like this, this is when we expect we'll have to perform an ice rescue so it's a great time to review all the gear, our procedures, and get all the equipment out and ready to go. Rescuing through the ice is a different animal that rescuing in open water."
Temperatures have been near or below freezing since the start of the week, but just a few days of cold weather isn't enough to solidly freeze a lake.
"Clearly the lesson is PLEASE do not play on the frozen lakes and ponds. It's deceptive near the shore where it's shallow; the ice is often the thickest and the further you proceed from shore, the thinner it gets," Erickson said. "We're not used to being on the ice -- this isn't Minnesota where we know it'll be frozen for 4-5 months of the time, this is very temporary condition and it's very thin, especially in the middle portion of the lake."