A man has been hospitalized after he fell through the middle of the ice while skating with his daughter on a pond Monday in Winchester, Massachusetts.
The man, whose name has not been released, spent about 15 minutes on a cold winter day in the water at Winter Pond, according to firefighters. He was grinning through pain as firefighters loaded him into an ambulance; he is displaying signs of hypothermia but is expected to be OK.
Neighbors quickly called 911 after witnessing what happened. They say the man was toward the middle of the pond, where the ice was thin. They say after he fell through, he clung to the side of the ice with his skates and heavy jacket still on.
"He was videoing some swans that were sitting out in the middle. And as he was getting closer, he got into thinner and thinner ice, and then he went through the ice and went down,” said Blair Wheeler, who saw the whole thing happen.
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Wheeler noted it was the first day of skating and the ice was a little thin, especially as you got further out.
"My first thought was, I think it’s a little risky to try to go rescue him so I just called 911 and they said, 'we’ll have the fire department come over,' and they were here within about 10 minutes," Wheeler added.
Two Winchester firefighters suited up, and it was Erica Poitras who crawled out on the frozen pond with a sled and pulled the man up.
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"He basically just said that he was getting tired of trying to hold onto the ice,” she recalled. "Trying to pull him onto the sled, he said that his arms weren’t really working anymore because he was so cold.”
Firefighters are now warning about the dangers of skating when the ice isn't fully frozen, saying if you do see someone fall in, call for help; do not try to rescue someone on your own.
"Our rescuer when she got there, the ice broke around her. So if you’re pretty close to that, that could be you as well going into the water,” Fire captain Daniel Balestrieri said.
Firefighters say people should stay off the ice until it is fully frozen, or only skate near the edges where the water is waist deep, or lower.