January 15, 2019 7:17 pm
Updated: January 15, 2019 7:57 pm

‘It was a miracle’: N.B. couple issues warning after snowmobiles plunge into icy river

WATCH: Two snowmobilers who found themselves plunged in the icy Miramichi River are hoping others learn from their horrific experience. As Callum Smith explains, the couple thought there was no chance they'd survive.

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It’s a route Darcie King and her husband Tom have taken for years with their snowmobiles — across the Miramichi River and under the Morrissy Bridge to get to off-road trails. But after setting out to meet with some friends and go to dinner Friday evening, the couple didn’t realize they’d soon be fighting for their lives.

They were riding safely apart from each other and following tracks that were already imprinted in the snowy ice, but then something went wrong.

“I looked down and noticed that I was starting to sink,” says Darcie.

Tom and Darcie King returned to the Morrissy Bridge, recalling their life-changing experience after almost drowning Friday evening.

Callum Smith / Global News

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READ MORE: City says ice surfaces on lakes and ponds not safe in Lethbridge

She tried to roll off the snowmobile onto the ice nearby, but every piece she grabbed kept breaking.

The Kings were travelling a safe distance apart from each other but lost sight of one another when they both went under.

“There was one point and I just … I was exhausted,” says Tom. “I just sort of [thought] ‘Well, I think it’s over.'”

After about 10 minutes of trying to get out of the water, he finally was able to get himself up and onto ice that was stable enough to support him.

But the trouble didn’t stop there.

Tom was up on the ice and trying to get his bearings after plunging into the chilling, icy Miramichi River.

“You just did the fight of your life for all intents and purposes and you get out and you expect to be relieved to see her,” he says. “And then she’s in the same situation.”

He called for his wife numerous times, before finally hearing, “I’m over here.”

Tom made his way towards Darcie to try to rescue her, but she demanded he not risk his own safety on the ice.

“Stay back, you have to stay safe, you have to get out of here. You have to be the parent for our daughter,” says Darcie. “I said, ‘Our older boys can look after themselves, but she can’t… she’s 11; she needs one parent and I’m not coming out of here alive.'”

Tracks left from first responders near Darcie’s partially submerged snowmobile after bringing her and her husband back to safety.

Callum Smith / Global News

The two started to talk things over, and Darcie, who estimates she was fighting for her life in the river for between 30 to 35 minutes, managed to get her phone out of her snowsuit and threw it to her husband to call 911.

The Kings eventually noticed a light coming towards them, but shouted at the person who started walking towards them to stop.

“We told her, ‘Stay back, stay back, we’re waiting for help,'” says Tom. “When she got close enough, she said, ‘I am the help.'”

Const. Julie O’Donnell was in the area for another call and was first on scene.

“We made a daisy-chain and I pulled on her and she pulled on Darcie,” says Tom. “She was able to hang on to [Darcie] and get her out up onto the ice.”

An aerial view of Morrissy Bridge where the Kings went under.

Miramichi Police Force

“It was so selfless of her to come and do that,” says Darcie. “What she did… I can’t imagine anyone doing that for someone else.”

O’Donnell respectfully declined an interview request from Global News.

The couple were treated for hypothermia following their plunges, and Darcie still has swollen hands to show for it.

But they’re doing what they can to try to get their lives back to normal.

“I just praise the Good Lord above that we came out of this, but it’s a miracle,” says Darcie. “It’s a miracle that we did.”

She says she’d be back on a snowmobile today if she had the chance, but admits they’ll never cross the river again.

“You never know … you do not know what’s happening under that snow if there’s ice,” she says.

“Please people, please do not travel the ice on a snowmobile.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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