For Colorado resident Kristi Saine, November 22 was just like any other Tuesday. After picking her children up from basketball practice, she returned home, the frozen surface of Crystal Lake glittering in the distance. She gathered her things and opened the door, preparing to go inside. But as the crisp November air poured in through the open door, it was accompanied by an unusual sound – screams.
To her horror, she realized they were the screams of neighborhood children. And while the sound of raucous play isn’t unusual for the area, these were cries of distress. Unsure what she would find, she followed the sound toward the lake near her home.
After climbing the bordering fence to get a better view, Kristi was shocked to see four small children fighting to stay afloat in the icy water. “I jumped up on the fence and I could see them in the water, all four of them screaming,” she explained to 9 News.
Time was of the essence. The effects of hypothermia can take hold quickly in 70-degree water and this lake was 39 degrees at the very warmest. The children were likely already mere minutes from death.
Without wasting a moment, Kristi Saine’s daughter Tori called 911, who instructed any would-be rescuers not to step on the ice under any circumstances. No matter how good their intentions were, the bitterly cold water of the lake would make it impossible to swim, let alone pull four children to safety.
Neighbors Pull Children From Frozen Lake Using Extension Cords and Hoses
Their options were limited, but the neighborhood residents simply couldn’t stand by and wait for emergency services to arrive. A single minute could be the difference between life and death for the two boys and two girls trapped in the frigid lake.
Neighborhood residents first gathered extension cords and hoses from nearby homes. Then, while taking care to stay out of the water themselves, they threw the makeshift safety ropes to the children, who miraculously had enough strength to hold on while the adults pulled them to shore.
With three of the children out of the water, Kristi Saine led them to her home. There, they were given warm showers, fresh, dry clothes, and plenty of blankets. “It was sad. Their hands were purple. Their feet were frozen,” Saine said. “At first, I honestly didn’t know what to do. But I just knew I had to get them out of their wet clothes and get them warm.”
Unfortunately, the fourth child, a young teenage boy, was still in the water. Unlike the others, he had ventured too far toward the center of the lake and was out of reach.
Thankfully, West Metro Fire soon arrived on the scene. Equipped with ice suits, divers plunged below the frozen surface. Around 40 minutes after the initial call, rescuers successfully pulled the boy to safety. Quickly loading the boy into an awaiting ambulance, EMTs rushed him to a nearby hospital. His condition remains unknown.