15-year-old falls into icy creek while sledding in Canton

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CANTON, Ohio - Four local youngsters were taken to a Canton-area hospital after their sled went onto a creek that had not safely frozen over and the ice broke.

Canton Firefighter-Paramedic Rick Leone said his department was called to Monument Park just below the McKinley Memorial about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday.

A 15-year-old girl went sledding down a hill into the park. The sled did not stop before going into the creek, where a thin layer of ice was not strong enough to support it.

With single-digit wind chills, the girl ended up in water that was knee deep with several feet of mud and silt on the bottom making it difficult for her to get out.

"The friends that she was sledding with tried to help, which perpetuated the problem because now all of a sudden they are in the water and they are starting to panic," Leone said. "They sank down close to about hip depth and, like I said, panic set in.”

"One of our police officers got on the scene first and waded into the edge of the water, and basically made a daisy chain and pulled everybody out," Leone said.

When firefighters arrived, the girl told them she couldn't feel her legs.

"It's dangerous as soon as you get wet," said Leone, adding "you are cold and you are wet and your body doesn’t have the ability to warm itself at that point in time. It’s a losing battle."

Leone said there were no adults present with the children.

Three girls and a 16-year-old boy were transported to Altman Hospital as a precaution for hypothermia.

Leone, who is on the fire department's ice rescue team, said all were quickly released and will be OK.

On Wednesday, the sled remained on the creek where Leone hoped it would remain until spring and that nobody would be tempted to go back out onto the icy creek to retrieve it.

"Obviously, the thicker the ice, the better off it is. But from a rescue standpoint, we always look at it as no ice is safe ice because if we are out there that means you are having a bad day," Leone said.

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