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article imageTwo boys in New York state alive after being buried in snow bank

By Marcus Hondro     Nov 30, 2014 in Health
Two cousins in upstate New York, 9 and 11, have a cold and scary story to tell, but one with a happy ending. They survived 7 hours buried in snow thanks to a bubble of air. The quick thinking of a police officer was crucial in their rescue.
Last Wednesday, the boys, Elijah Martinez, 11, and Jason Rivera, 9, were building a snow fort after supper in a parking lot near their home, at about 7 p.m. Their town, Newburgh, 60 miles north of New York City, had been hit with 6 inches of snow that day.
As they were building a snow plow came along and pushed snow toward where they were building, collapsing their snow fort onto them. "We started screaming and telling him to stop," Elijah said. "But he didn't hear us."
The boys were buried but luckily a bubble around them had formed and there was air. "They were probably in about 5 feet of snow," Sgt. Aaron Weaver told WCBS. "But however it fell, there was, like, a dome around their heads, so there was air in there, like space for them."
Buried in a snow fort
It was frigid and there was no way out. Jason thought he and his cousin would die but he and Elijah fought the impulse to sleep and kept hoping. Their voices could not be heard above them so calling out wasn't reaching anyone, but they did try.
"We motivated each other to not go to sleep, keep yelling, keep moving our bodies," Elijah said. "Because I knew if we would've fallen asleep, we probably wouldn't have woke up because we would be so cold, frozen probably. I was punching everything, I was moving my shoulders, banging my head, moving everything so I could get more space."
“He had more space than me, I couldn’t really move,” Jason said. “If I could’ve sat up, I could’ve got my legs out and we could’ve at least made more space, but there was a big block of ice on my chest so I couldn’t move.”
Their parents didn't report them missing until midnight, though the family themselves had started looking after 10 p.m., going to the parking lot because they knew they had gone there to build a snow fort. Nine police officers and family wound up looking and though Elijah and Jason could hear people calling, their responses could not be heard.
Police officer finds shovel
What saved them was the actions, and the thinking of Officer Brandon Rola. He found a shovel half sticking out of a snow bank and grabbed and started digging.
"I pulled the shovel out, and I definitely didn't put it together then but just kind of decided to start digging," he told CNN. He kept digging and kept digging and suddenly he hit something. It was a boot, one of the kids' boots. Now the kids took over.
“The cop saw our shovel got buried, he started digging twice and he hit my foot," Elijah said. "And ‘I’m like Papito somebody hit my foot, so yell.’ We kept yelling, ‘Keep digging, keep digging. We’re in here.’ So he kept digging."
They had to flag down a couple of trucks to get more shovels, but they did, and a bunch of officers frantically dug into the bank. When police pulled them out they got a round of applause from family, other police, and others who had come along to help
The boys were obviously just happy to be out and though they had to pay a visit to Westchester Medical Center, and stay three nights, to be treated for hypothermia, they are fine now. Not surprisingly, after being buried 7 hours in snow, they said that building a snow fort is no longer high on their list of priorities.
More about Snow bank, Buried, New york state
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