Kirby Wakelin, chief of the volunteer fire department in Cornwall, said the call came in around 2:11 p.m. that a 16-year-old boy was floating down the North River near 44 Heritage Drive.
“I was at home getting ready for work and a call came in that there was somebody out on an [ice floe] by North River Causeway in the middle of the water and they were floating pretty fast,” he said.
The North River runs under North River Causeway. Wakelin said the water in that area of the river is about 7.5 metres deep.
The piece of ice the boy was on was quite large, measuring about two metres by four metres.
Three volunteer firefighters in cold water survival suits launched a boat into the river for the rescue.
“He was sitting on an iceberg and we told him just to stay still until the boat came to get him,” said Wakelin. “I’d say it was probably moving at [five or six kilometres per hour], that’s pretty fast for something like that.”
He said the teen was very cold by the time rescuers reached him. Paramedics treated him at the scene.
Wakelin said he suspects the teen and a friend were playing on the ice near a trailer park when one of the boys jumped onto the floe that broke off.
“Him and his friends were jumping [ice floes] I guess and they jumped on it and away she went. The other fella jumped onto shore, he got soaking, but he got to shore and the other young fella was too far away and he just couldn’t get off,” he said.
Wakelin praised the quick response by the rescuers.
“I think the guys did a fantastic job,” he said.