Girl, 16, rescued from ice

Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2004

A 16-year-old runaway was rescued from an ice floe bobbing in the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday evening by the very official personnel she was trying to evade.

The teenager ran away from the Kenai Care Center earlier in the day and police had been looking for her since, said Kenai Police Lt. Kim Wannamaker. She was spotted on the north beach of the Kenai River near South Spruce Street around 7 p.m., but when she saw the police officer sent to pick her up, she ran up the beach toward the mouth of the river and started jumping out on the ice, Wannamaker said.

The tide was almost fully out at the time, and the ice started drifting into Cook Inlet's mid-30-degree water. The girl had no shoes or socks on, and soon her attempt at evasion turned into cries for help.

The Kenai police and fire departments, Alaska State Troopers and Nikiski Fire Department responded to the scene. Nikiski brought an inflatable boat and Kenai firefighters prepared diving gear as a precaution. A helicopter also was dispatched to Kenai Airport Operations Facility, where it stood by if needed.

Wannamaker was contacted at home about the emergency and brought his canoe in the back of his truck to add to the rescue effort.

Rescuers launched the canoe from the north beach, paddled out to collect the stranded girl from her icy perch and paddled her against the tide to the south beach, where an ambulance and other rescue vehicles were standing by at the beach access site off Cannery Road.

The teenager's floating ordeal lasted nearly an hour by the time she was carried up the beach to the warmth of the waiting ambulance.

Wannamaker said she would be taken to Central Peninsula General Hospital to be checked out as a precaution.

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