GRAFTON, Mass. -- A father and his son were rescued late Sunday afternoon when their snowmobile fell through Lake Ripple behind Bernard Road.
Michael Vento, 38, and his son, Colby, 10, were treated first on the scene and then at UMass Memorial Medical Center for hypothermia, according to Grafton Police. The family said they were later released.
According to Grafton Police they responded to an ice rescue call at 5:28 p.m. from Jessica Zaleski of Logan Road, when she and her husband, Roger, discovered the father and son had fallen through while riding on the icy lake with their snowmobile.
"The Zaleskis saved these people's lives," said Grafton Police Chief Normand A. Crepeau, Jr. "Had they not called, they would still be under the water right now. Everyone did a tremendous job on this rescue, but we wouldn't have known about it if they didn't call."
Jennifer Germain, the wife and mother of the victims, said in a telephone interview that her husband and son went for a quick spin before planning to return to watch the Super Bowl.
According to Germain, as they were returning, the snowmobile fell through, submerging them both. The police said they were about 50 feet from the shore.
She said they were in the icy water for approximately 10 minutes until they were rescued by police and fire units. In her account, she said her husband was fully submerged while struggling to keep his half-submerged son on the ice surface.
"Dad, please don't let me die," Colby screamed to his father, according to Germain.
According to Grafton Police, when Officer Daniel Wenc arrived on the scene, he saw Roger Zaleski halfway out on the ice trying to reach the victims. Wenc retrieved a life ring buoy and rope rescue device from his cruiser and with the help of Grafton Fire Department Deputy Chief Michel Mills, firefighter Brett Mills, and Zaleski, saved the boy.
The police said firefighter Mills went further out on the ice in an attempt to rescue the father who could not pull himself out of the water.
The police said Mills and other personnel who arrived at the scene located a canoe on the shoreline and used it to finally pull Michael Vento from the water and into a waiting ambulance. Father and son were treated for hypothermia at the scene and then transported to UMass Memorial Medical Center.
"Thank God we have a great department," Germain said referring to the police, fire, and emergency medical service units.
Grafton Police Chief, Normand A. Crepeau, Jr. cautioned, in his weekly column published Jan. 24, that residents need to take precautions when on frozen open water. "This winter, the temperatures continue to fluctuate above and below freezing making ice conditions very uncertain," he said. "Due to the uncertainty, many towns will not sanction the safety of lakes, ponds, streams or rivers that have frozen over."