River mishap chills 3

Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2000

Curiosity about river ice led to a frigid ordeal for two Soldotna youngsters Wednesday afternoon.

The two, a 14-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl, were walking on the river ice in a sheltered eddy near their home. The ice they were standing on broke loose and began floating downstream. Their father rushed into the water to try to rescue them, and the ice floe tipped, dumping the children in the water, said Capt. Randy Willis of Central Emergency Services.

Fortunately, the river was only waist-deep, and the current was slow.

Shortly after 3 p.m., CES was dispatched to rescue three people in the Kenai River off Airport Heights Road, across from the mouth of Soldotna Creek. When medics arrived, the father and two children were out of the water and on their way to their cabin nearby.

"They were so cold they could hardly walk from being in the water just a few minutes," Willis said.

Although the three were able to reach shore safely, they were in a dangerous situation because of hypothermia, Willis stressed.

"From the knees down, they said they couldn't feel anything," he said.

Emergency responders instructed the parents how to treat the children. When he left the scene, the two youngsters were in warm beds drinking hot cocoa, Willis said.

The names of the people involved were not released.

The incident had a happy ending, but it demonstrates how risky ice can be. Central peninsula lakes are pretty well frozen, but any place with moving water has little ice due to the mild temperatures, Willis cautioned.

"Messing with the Kenai River is not a good thing to do," he said.

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