Hamilton police are using the plight of two 10-year-old boys as an example of playing safe around the water after a close call in Hamilton Harbour.
Best friends Alex Neto and Lucas Snelling had a close call in the icy waters of Hamilton Harbour on Thursday night when the pair ventured out on the docks near the Hamilton Bay Sailing Club around 4:30 p.m. and Lucas fell into the water.
“So we were going to see, like, these trees cause they were kind of looking a little bit sketchy,” Lucas said.
Snelling said the pair were checking out what looked like “a little forrest” with chairs and a ladder all made out of wood.
“So I wanted to bring him (Alex), and then we saw all the ice. So I started just sitting by the docks, and then because there is so much ice, I slipped in,” said Snelling.
Neto said he then ran to his friend thinking that he may be drowning and tried to grab Snelling.
“He’s way heavier than me. So I tried to pick him up, but I can’t. So I keep holding him,” said Alex, “I help him break…I start punching the ice. I’m still grabbing him with the one hand I’m bringing him up to the shallow end, cause I can’t pick him up.”
Neto in desperation began to break ice and began dragging Snelling to a more shallow end of the water. Neto said he tried to grab on to the fence behind him for support.
“It felt like an hour struggle, but it was only like 10 seconds.” said Neto.
Fortunately, just minutes later, a pair of Hamilton police officers on patrol spotted the boys and assisted in pulling Lucas out of the water.
“And then it was like a miracle,” said Lucas, “The cops came. Just like, drive by, like 30 seconds after. And they brought me up. And then I went to the police station.”
Snelling says he and Alex were taken to the central police station where he was given a blanket and the two St. Lawrence Catholic Elementary School students were given a clean bill of heath from paramedics.
“Nothing happened to me. My heartbeat was good. Everything turned out really good. Yeah.”
Const. Ben Rushton says “it’s natural” for kids to go exploring but says it’s important that parents have a conversation about being near large bodies of water especially at this time of year.
“It’s important to recognize that no ice is safe ice and to be aware of the ice conditions can change frequently,” said Rushton, “So this time of year, we’re strongly recommending that nobody goes on any body of water.”
Rushton says the average water temperature for an area around the lake’s shoreline is likely about four to five degrees celcius which he says can be very cold.
“Hypothermia becomes an issue rather quickly and you lose your ability to have your gross motor skills. So it’s fortunate for him (Lucas) his friend was there and you heard him say he wasn’t going to let him go.”
Lucas says the friendship between he and Alex is stronger than ever and that he now sees him as a “brother” after holding on to him while in the icy water.
“I’m very happy to see him because I thought like I was going to see what I was just can be wrapped in a blanket and sick,” said Neto, “But right when we came to school, I gave him a hug, and like also, happy he was here.”