Young boy falls through ice at Puffer’s Pond, rescued by bystanders

The 11-year-old was walking on thin ice


Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

By Abigail Charpentier, News Editor

An 11-year-old boy was rescued from Puffer’s Pond in North Amherst at approximately 12 p.m. on Sunday after falling through the ice.

Kyle Sawin of Easthampton and David Gatautis of Northampton were ice fishing together when they witnessed a boy walking on the ice about 40 feet away from the shoreline before falling through.

“We’re just hanging out here, and we saw a kid come walking through,” Sawin said. “I thought I heard like a little bit of a crash, I look over to see this kid flailing his arms trying to get out of the water, so like instantly we just went over.”

“He said his mom was walking around or something and he was going to the other side. And it’s really thin over there. There’s a channel on the other side. He walked straight over,” Gatautis added.

Gatautis explained the boy managed to partially get up, but fell back in. After seeing him continue to struggle, Sawin and Gatautis ran over with a sled and a rope, careful not to fall in themselves, and told him to grab on.

“It came really natural. You see someone and [in need of] help, you gotta run over and help them out,” Sawin said.

Kyle Sawin, who helped save an 11-year-old boy who fell through ice at Puffer’s Pond Sunday. (Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian)

Gatautis said the boy lives near the pond and looked to be about 60 pounds.

Sawin, who comes to Puffer’s Pond once or twice a year, has never experienced anything like this and said, “I’ve been ice fishing for many years now, so I know what is safe and what isn’t, and you should always play on the safe side.”

Amherst police officer John Chudzik said the boy was roughly 40 feet out in the lake near the channel, where the ice was about an inch thick.

“Running water doesn’t freeze… [the boy] didn’t understand the dynamic of ice and how the water runs,” Chudzik said.

Chudzik confirmed the child was safe and would be “alright.” He also explained the areas of the ice that are 11 or 12 inches thick are safe to stand on and advises people to stay away from the ripples.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.