Teens cling to tree after ice begins to crack, are rescued - New York News

Teens cling to tree after ice begins to crack, are rescued

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Orton brothers Orton brothers
SHOW LOW, Ariz. -

Three teens up north were stranded on a frozen lake that was beginning to crack -- but survived to tell the tale, and warn others about the danger.

The rescue took place on Wednesday at the Fools Hollow Lake campground.

"The ice started to crack so the juveniles climbed onto a dead tree that was sticking up through the frozen lake, this was after their shoes had frozen to the ice," said Captain Brent Mix of the Show Low Fire Department.

Alex Orten and Christian Van Aller were stuck on the tree for four hours while Wesley Orton was able to escape safely. Wesley stayed on the bank and used a cell phone to call for help, watching helplessly and his brother and friend held on to the tree for dear life.

The boys' shoes got wet, so they had to take them off and wrap their caps around their feet to stay warm.

Christian's dad Jason works search and rescue cases as a Navajo County Sheriff's deputy.

"When I realized the magnitude of the situation with my son and the other boys out there on the tree, that's when the emotions kind of took over a little bit," said Jason Van Aller.

The Lakeside Fire Department sent a firefighter into the lake wearing a waterproof suit and holding a rope. He pulled a boat out to the boys to rescue them.

"The temperature at the time of call was 27 degrees and had dropped to 22 by the time the incident was completed and the sun had set," added Mix.

The boys were transported to Summit Regional Medical Center for precautionary measures and mild hypothermia.

"We were feeling pretty dumb, and we were just scared about how much in trouble we were going to get when we got home," said Alex Orton.

"Feel better and safe, that God was watching over us… we could've died, but God was watching over us, he helped us through it," said Christian Van Aller.

We talked to Kristen Orton, mother of 15-year-old Alex and 13-year-old Wesley.

"My son has been a boy scout for about three or four years, and I'm shocked he did it. I understand the adrenaline of walking on ice and that's why they had to keep themselves dry and keep their fingers and toes moving and thankfully they had two cell phones between the boys to call for help," said Kristen. "It really is just a miracle the way it all turned out, that they are all safe and stuff."

Arizona lakes usually don't get cold enough for ice to freeze solidly.

"Never go on a frozen lake, it's just not a good idea ever," advised Alex.

The boys wrote thank you letters to the firefighters who saved their lives. They want other people to know the dangers of walking out on a lake that is not frozen solid.

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