A near-death experience has taught three Lake Country children an important lesson about walking on thin ice.
Twelve-year-olds Jordan Funk, Brittney Herriot and 11-year-old Bethany McIsaac were playing on and around Wood Lake in mid February.
Funk said he was standing on a thick piece of ice; however, there was a spot where the ice was thin.
“He realized that it wasn’t (thick) and right before he was about to turn around, he fell through,” said Herriot, recalling what she witnessed last month.
“We weren’t really near him. We were jumping on thick blocks of ice. When we realized he fell through, we ran over there as fast as we could and started tugging at him.”
In the attempt to rescue Funk, McIsaac took a step in the wrong direction.
“I moved to the side and stepped on the thin ice by accident,” said McIsaac.
McIsaac said that the frigid water shocked her body. To make matters worse, her arm was in a sling, limiting her movements.
Herriot said that the series of events caught her off guard at first, but she quickly realized how serious the situation was.
“I was like, ‘What if I fall in? We’re going to die.’ I went on my knees and when I was on my knees the ice started cracking. So I moved to thicker ice and then I started tugging on Bethany,” said Herriot.
“When Jordan realized she couldn’t swim with the sling, he went under water and pushed her up. Then I pulled the rest of her out. Then I pulled Jordan out.”
Funk said that, once in the water, he realized the possibility that he could die. He said he was scared, cold and couldn’t move his legs very easily.
The trio’s effort to help each other was nothing short of brave. Herriot—who eventually helped lift her two friends to safety—is considerably smaller than both Funk and McIsaac.
“I thought, I’m not going to let my friends die. So I did my best to get them out,” said Herriot.
After getting out of the water and feeling the effects of hypothermia, the three went to McIsaac’s house. Although McIsaac felt as though she was in shock, she was eager to see her mother, so she went to her mom’s place of work.
“She was telling me what happened. She could barely talk, I just couldn’t believe what she was telling me, that they had fallen through the ice,” said Yvonne McIsaac, Bethany’s mom.
Yvonne immediately left work, called an ambulance and helped the kids warm up.
“They didn’t need to go to the hospital but the definitely needed to warm up faster than I could get them warmed up on my own,” said Yvonne.
According to Yvonne, she thought the kids had plenty of education about the dangers of thin ice.
“I guess I assumed, like a lot of parents do, living in a valley full of lakes that the kids had heard enough about the dangers. But I guess you never know. You can’t assume that they know enough. I think there needs to be more awareness.”
Approximately a week before the youths’ incident, a man fell through the ice on Wood Lake and died. The youth trio claimed that none of them were aware of that tragedy.
When asked if the kids had learned a lesson from the experience, they quickly replied, in unison, “Never go on thin ice.”