RUMFORD — A teenage boy fishing the Androscoggin River on Tuesday evening was rescued from a spinning chunk of ice 50 yards from shore, while his friend on another piece of ice made it safely to shore.

A teenage boy was rescued from a chunk of ice in this section of the Androscoggin River in Rumford on Tuesday evening. Rumford Falls Times photo by Bruce Farrin

“They had small fishing poles and they were trying to fish. Almost a fatal mistake,” Fire Chief Chris Reed said.

A worker at the ND Paper mill spotted the boys at the edge of the river near the upper gate of the mill and called the mill guard shack officer, who called the Fire Department at 4:56 p.m., the chief said.

Firefighters arrived three minutes later with their ice sled. By then, the teen on ice close to shore got safely back on land. The other teen was on a bigger piece of ice floating in the river about 50 yards from shore. Reed said the ice chunk was spinning as the current moved it farther from shore.

“When we got here with our resources, we came up with a plan,” Reed said. “I sent some people downriver, in case he fell in. So I had downstream rescuers, upstream spotters and then the rescue team deployed.”

Fire Department Pvt. Chris Arsenault and probationary Pvt. Ray Crockett put on rescue suits, made their way down a steep bank to the river and had firefighters lower equipment to them.

“The worst-case scenario was if we had to take him off the ice and drag him through the water to get him back, which we didn’t want to do,” the chief said. “We were hoping to be able to move the big ice chunk and we were able to.”

Reed said Arsenault threw a life jacket to the teen, who asked, “What’s this for?”

“‘In case we’ve got to put you in the water,'” Reed said Arsenault told the boy.

Arsenault, however, was able to grab onto the ice and firefighters pulled the boy back to shore using a tether.

“Once he got out of the current, it went pretty smoothly,” Reed said. “Anytime you commit people in that moving water, it’s high risk.”

Med-Care Ambulance paramedics checked the teens before they were returned to their parents. The names of the teens were not released.

The rescue took a little more than a hour.

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