Originally Published by the London Free Press, January 24, 2017
Six days earlier, Nick Bennett, 14, got his parents to buy him a $15 pair of ice fishing spikes.
He was insistent on it. They could save my life, he told them.
Nick had the two spikes on a string around his neck on Saturday morning when he and buddy Josh Hart, 14, fished on a pond near Highbury Avenue and Kilally Road.
Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.
“We saw two other smaller kids and I really didn’t think too much about it at the time,” Nick recalled Tuesday.
“I heard a big splash and I looked back to see they were both submerged in the water.”
That began a harrowing few minutes that put Nick’s bravery and smarts, as well as the spikes, to the test.
It’s an experience, as well, that should teach others to be wary around ice, his parents and firefighters say.
“Realistically, there is a one in 10 chance that story ends well,” Chris Peters, a member of the ice water rescue squad with the city fire department, said. “But kudos to him for doing that.”
As soon as Nick saw the two younger boys in the water, he rushed across the pond and fell through himself.
“I couldn’t feel the bottom. I also couldn’t feel my legs,” he recalled. “I didn’t really feel much pain at the time. I think I had some kind of adrenaline rush because I was really afraid. It seemed like my body was trying to get out.”
He dug the spikes into the ice to scramble out, but the ice kept breaking, so he had to keep trying.
After what seemed two or three minutes in the water, Nick pulled himself out and knew enough to roll on the ice to avoid breaking through again.
One boy had already gotten out on his own.
“His friend kept trying to get closer. I kept telling him to stay back because he had a lot less chance of survival if he fell in again.”
Josh held out one of his long wader boots in an effort to reach Nick and the boy, but the ice was unstable and he couldn’t get close enough.
Nick rolled over to the boy in the water, and threw one spike to the boy and held onto the other.
(The two spikes were attached by a string about less than a metre long, but Nick cut the frayed string off after the rescue.)
The boy managed to grab hold and Nick helped pull him out, then made sure the boy rolled to reach safe ice.
“I just told him to go home and get warm as soon as possible.”
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