Arizona Teens Rescued From Tree After Ice On Surface Of Frozen Lakes Breaks From Under Them

on January 04 2013 9:47 AM
Frozen Lake
Two Arizona teenagers were rescued earlier this week after spending at least two hours hanging from a dead tree on a frozen lake. Reuters

Two Arizona teenagers were rescued earlier this week after spending at least two hours hanging from a dead tree on a frozen lake.

Authorities told Fox News on Thursday that the ice on the surface of Fool Hollow Lake near Show Low began to crack, leaving the two boys stranded with nowhere to go. Reports indicated that a third teen was present at the scene and was able to call for help while the other two held on for their life.

Once emergency personnel arrived on the scene, firefighter Jack Gessner made his way across the lake with a rope attached to a boat carrying other rescuers.

Gessner later told reporters that his initial attempt involved him crawling halfway across the ice but was eventually submerged in water after the ice broke from under him.

His suit and training worked as designed, leaving him dry but tired, Fox News reported.

"I thought it went well. It was a really good team effort, and everybody did their jobs," Gessner, a firefighter on the ice rescue team of Lakeside Fire District, said.

While the firefighter-turned-hero added that the boys stayed relatively calm throughout the entire rescue process, the two teens were eventually taken to a hospital for treatment of mild hypothermia.

"Their hands and feet got pretty cold," Show Low Fire Capt. Brent Mix told Fox News. "It was dark by the time we got them to shore."

Each of the two Arizona teenagers lost a shoe while having been stranded on a tree.

Bonnie Van Aller told Fox News that her son, Christian, said he took off one of his shoes when a branch broke and it got soaked in the lake as his foot slipped.

Van Aller, who is an emergency room nurse and is married to a sheriff’s deputy, said she knew immediately that the situation was serious and left work to go to the lake after her husband called to report the boys' predicament.

"'Bonnie, it's not good.' For my husband to say that, I've got to go," Van Aller said.

She said she witnessed the rescue and was confident the firefighters had the know-how to save her son.

"This is by the grace of God, I'm telling you. I woke up this morning saying thank you, thank you, thank you -- this is my only child," Van Aller said. "Thank God the tree was there."

A spokesman for the Lakeside Fire District said that Arizona lakes usually don’t get cold enough for ice to freeze solidly. Even still, kids apparently try to test the waters.

"Every once in a while, we have kids trying to see how far out they can go," Show Low Fire Capt. Brent Mix said. "That was pretty foolish. There was probably an inch of ice in the middle of the lake."