Hunt for Winnipeg boy who fell through ice called off

Kole Devisscher should feel like a hero after saving a 10-year-old boy who’d fallen through the ice on the Red River. But the 16-year-old can’t stop thinking that if he’d happened upon the scene just a few minutes earlier, he might have been able to save another boy who’d also plunged through the ice and couldn’t be found. He also thinks about how easily it could have been him.

A Winnipeg water rescue unit searches for a child after two children were spotted in the Red River by the Disraeli Bridge on Saturday. The search has since been called off.

A Winnipeg water rescue unit searches for a child after two children were spotted in the Red River by the Disraeli Bridge on Saturday. The search has since been called off.

WINNIPEG — Kole Devisscher should feel like a hero after saving a 10-year-old boy who’d fallen through the ice on the Red River.

But the 16-year-old can’t stop thinking that if he’d happened upon the scene just a few minutes earlier, he might have been able to save another boy who’d also plunged through the ice and couldn’t be found.

He also thinks about how easily it could have been him.

“We all do it,” Devisscher said about playing on the ice. “I’m only 16 so I still do it. You walk on it, bounce on it, to see if you can break through it.”

“But I guess that’s not really the place to be doing it, on the Red River.”

Police say two boys, one aged 10 and the other about 6, were playing on the frozen river near a bridge in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon when they fell through.

The search for the younger boy was called off Sunday, and police said a recovery dive is being planned to take place in the next few days.

Devisscher, who was driving across the bridge in his father’s pickup truck, said he saw what appeared to be someone in the water. He hit the brakes and put the truck into reverse for a better look.

He said he could see the older boy in the water struggling to climb up onto the ice, so he grabbed a towing rope from the back of the truck while his passenger phoned 911.

Devisscher edged out onto the ice, careful not to break through himself, and threw the rope to the boy. But the boy wasn’t able to hold on tight enough to be pulled to safety, and the ice he was trying to climb onto kept breaking.

“He was screaming that he didn’t know where his brother was, and that he was going to die. I was looking around for his brother but I couldn’t see him,” Devisscher said.

“I ended up making a lasso and got him to put it around his shoulders so I could pull him up,” he continued. “When he went to do that, the current there was so strong that he nearly ended up being pulled under the ice.”

After pulling the boy to safety, Devisscher led him to the riverbank, where the boy then collapsed. Devisscher gave the boy his coat. By that time, a tow truck had stopped to help and carried the child to the road.

Police say the boy was taken to hospital in stable condition.

Rescuers searched the area for a number of hours before calling off the search. Police told a news conference on Sunday that diving conditions were hazardous and that visibility in the fast-moving water was poor.

The names of the boys haven’t been released and a police news release issued Sunday did not say if they were related.

Devisscher said even though he got to the scene too late to save the younger child, it would have made the rescue even more difficult.

“Who do you save first? You would have had to pick from the two,” he said.

“It’s sad.”

He noted his days of playing on the ice are over.