ice rescue

First Responders Urge Caution After Falls Through Ice in Winchester, Lexington

People fell through thin ice Monday in two Massachusetts communities

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After multiple people fell through ice Monday in Massachusetts, safety officials are urging people to be careful.

A Stoneham man is now home recovering today after falling through the ice in Winchester. Rescuers rushed to the scene Monday to help get him to safety.

Winchester Fire Chief Rick Tustin says it's an example of why they train for these types of rescues extensively, and why people should be taking precautions around the ice.

"Our captains and our crews handled it, you know, with expertise," he said of the response Monday. "It looks like it went well, you know, textbook rescue."

With temperatures expected to warm up, officials are warning about ice safety.

That man's daughter and wife say they're just thankful he's OK. His wife also wants to remind others that a momentary lapse in judgement is all it takes.

Skaters in Lexington were shocked to learn the hockey gear sitting in the middle of Lexington Resevoir is from a different incident the same day.

Two Lexington High School students fell through thin ice during a simple game of hockey.

"I blacked out for a second. And then I realized I was in the water and then like, I woke up, and realized where I was," Vasili Splagounias recalled to NBC10 Boston.

Splagounias ended up in the freezing water, prompting his friend and hockey teammate to try to help.

"He tried pulling me out," Splagounias said. "And then he fell in."

That's when he says others jumped into action, including another friend and several dads who were in the area.

"A friend's dad came. He came and pulled my friend out with a hockey stick. And I was grabbing onto him, but he was pulled out too fast, so I couldn't grab on and I was still treading water," Splagounias said.

Coulson Roy and Milo Conlin, friends and teammates who were also skating, said other dads came over to help, including one who used a dog leash to pull Splagounias to safety.

Splagounias' father says he's very thankful to everyone who tried helping.

"I'm sure anyone could attest as a parent, you would never want to receive that phone call," he said. "Thank God. We're very fortunate, and we're very fortunate for people in this community who care."

The scary situation will have these high schoolers thinking differently before stepping onto the ice.

"I'll remember it for the rest of my life," Splagounias said. "I don't want to imagine what happened if I was alone or with just one person or two."

Jeff Boehm was out skating close to land Tuesday and had no idea anyone had fallen through the day before.

"We didn't know because we weren't here yesterday," he said. "But that's a little disconcerting. We're staying close to the edge … We stayed away from that area where it's getting a lot more sun and definitely will not be going out into the middle."

Martin Vanmierlo also opted to lace up his skates Tuesday.

"We have a rope, and yesterday morning, we had a rope with us, so we're ready for that to happen," he said.

While skaters say they feel confident evaluating conditions themselves and staying close to shore, fire officials in both towns sent a strong message.

Tustin says it's important to note conditions can change rapidly.

"There is really no safe ice for ice skating other than the ice skating rink," he said.

And while staying off completely is his best piece of advice, he says there are things to keep in mind in case something happens.

"If somebody should fall through the ice, we always recommend reach, throw or row. And, you know, not to put yourself on the ice, but, you know, you throw a rope, extend a branch, or if there's a boat, extend the boat," he said.

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