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Teen pulled from Lake Sainte Louise after falling through ice remains in critical condition

Teen pulled from Lake Sainte Louise after falling through ice remains in critical condition

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Ice in Lake Sainte Louise

Three teens fell through the ice in Lake Sainte Louise on Monday, Jan. 19, 2015. Post-Dispatch file photo

UPDATED at 10:22 a.m. :  According to the Facebook page for Living Word Christian School in O'Fallon, the teen who was under the water for 15 minutes is John Smith, an eighth grader at the school. He remains in critical condition Tuesday morning at Cardinal Glennon.

Classmates wore blue -- the boy's favorite color -- to show their support today, according to the page.

Hospital officials released a short statement from the teen's family asking for people to continue praying for their son.

“We are trusting in God for healing and have seen the power of prayer," the statement said.

St. Charles First Assembly is holding a special prayer service tonight from 7 to 8 p.m. for the teen. The church is situated at 4570 North Outer Service Road in St. Peters, across Interstate 70 from Mid Rivers Mall.

Our earlier story:

LAKE SAINT LOUIS • When police Officer Rick Frauenfelder got to the lake, the two boys were yelling, scared.

The 14-year-olds had fallen into the lake about 11:35 a.m., moments after a worker at the association office had told them to get off the thinning ice.

The recent 50-degree temperatures had shrunk the ice at Lake Sainte Louise, the smaller of the city’s two lakes, to less than 2 inches thick in some areas.

Frauenfelder said the boys were about 40 yards away from the closest dock behind the association headquarters on Cognac Court. One of them was bobbing in and out of the water, and the other was trying desperately to hold on to the ice shelf.

“He was trying to pull himself out of the water, but he was getting weaker and weaker; the water was really getting to him,” Frauenfelder said.

Frauenfelder and Officer Ryan Hall, who had just arrived, tore off their duty gear off, grabbed a couple of ropes and life jackets and raced to the water.

As they threw the ropes in the boys’ direction, one of the boys disappeared below the surface.

Lake Saint Louis and Wentzville firefighters, wearing special ice rescue suits, arrived and ran to help. They pulled the boy who was still above water to shore.

“He was confused and disoriented from the cold,” Frauenfelder said. “Firefighters had to basically bear hug him onto the sled he was so weak.”

Firefighters rushed him to a waiting ambulance and then went to work to find the other boy.

Frauenfelder told them the last place he had seen the teen, and firefighters used rescue hooks to poke around the 40-degree water to find him.

“About five minutes later we located him; he was on the bottom of the lake,” said Lake Saint Louis Fire Capt. Justin Darnell. “We were able to get him up and out and to shore.”

The boy had been under water for about 15 minutes, and he wasn’t breathing. He had no pulse. First responders started CPR and used a defibrillator to try to resuscitate him.

When the boy got to a hospital, emergency personnel were able to get a pulse back, officials said. He was later airlifted to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, where he was in critical condition, officials said.

The other boy who was rescued and a third boy — who fell in trying to rescue the pair but got to shore on his own — were treated at hospitals for hypothermia. Authorities have not identified any of the victims.

Darnell said firefighters had just conducted ice-rescue training last week, which helped them to stay focused.

“It helped, too, to know that the cold water gives you a little more time than you’ve got with warm-water drownings,” he said.

Frauenfelder said initial reports about the prognosis for the most seriously injured boy were good.

“We’re all dads, so it hits close to home,” he said. “Unfortunately, kids sometimes make wrong decisions.”

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