Firefighters pulled four cold and frightened children from the sticky mud of Mirror Pond late Tuesday afternoon after they sunk to their waists while looking for crawdads.
The four youngsters spent 45 minutes in the icy muck before rescuers could pull them out. All four had dangerously low body temperatures and three were taken to St. Charles Medical Center for evaluation following the ordeal.
“All of them were very, very cold,” said Capt. Bob Madden of the Bend Fire Department. The children had body temperatures as low as 93 degrees, low enough to induce hypothermia.
Tyler Nicoll, age 9, and Chelsea Nicoll and Chris Moe, both 8, were released from the hospital after being examined. Patricia Kitelinger, 10, was taken home after the rescue.
According to a report, at least two of the children had stopped on their way home from school to catch crawdads in the Descutes River, which has been lowered to allow repairs to Pacific Power’s dam. The operation has exposed large mud flats in Mirror Pond.
The children ventured across the flats and sunk after stepping into soft mud. The others came to help and also got stuck.
“I saw Tyler was up to his waist and I went to help and as soon as I got close I sank to my knees. It was really cold,” said a shivering Patricia Kitelinger.
Firefighters laid a 25-foot ladder and then a 14-foot ladder across the mud to reach the children. Firefighter Leo Renk, wearing a diver’s dry suit, reached the children and pulled them out.
Renk said the mud was so this he could barely pull the children free. At one point he slipped into the muck himself and almost couldn’t get out.
“There was no bottom. I don’t know what kept me from going on down,” he said.
The pond was drained Monday to let Pacific Power workers locate and repair two leaks in rotting timbers in the spillway mechanism at the bottom of the 80-year-old dam.
Repairs were completed this morning and the pond will be refilled starting Thursday morning.
Source: The Bulletin ©1993