Boys survive 7 hours trapped beneath snow
Boys survive 7 hours trapped beneath snow The snowbank in which cousins Jason Rivera and Elijah Martinez built their snow fort sits at the corner of a parking lot in Newburg, New York. Nine-year-old Jason Rivera and Elijah Martinez, 11, appear at left (AP photos)
Boys survive 7 hours trapped beneath snow
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Two boys, trapped in a snow pile for about seven hours after a plow buried them, could hear their worried family's cries but couldn't respond loudly enough to be heard. Police credited an air pocket with saving their lives.

The two cousins, 11-year-old Elijah Martinez and 9-year-old Jason Rivera, were building a snow fort last week across the street from Elijah's apartment in Newburgh, N.Y., when a plow operator clearing a parking lot unknowingly pushed snow over them.

Buried in about 5 feet of snow, they could barely move and couldn't breathe very well, so they could do nothing as they heard the anguished cries nearby. Jason lost his gloves, his hat flew off, and they relied on each other to stay alive, they said, sharing Elijah's face mask to try and keep their hands warm and talking to each other so they wouldn't fall asleep.

"I felt so tired. It didn't feel real that they were coming to get us," Elijah said at a news conference at the hospital where the boys were recovering.

Meanwhile, their parents were growing more frantic, calling police and searching through the snowy streets for the children who were mere feet from the apartment.

"I just kept telling myself: 'This is not true. This is not real,'" said Jason's mom, Aulix Martinez. "It was just scary, and as time went on, it got scarier. I was begging the police to please find them."

Neighbor Takiaya Stevens told The Associated Press that police rallied help for the search.

"The cops were coming to all the neighbors' houses. They were knocking on doors, they were ringing bells asking for shovels, asking for help," she said. "The neighbors came out. Everyone tried to join in the search for the little boys."

Then Officer Brandon Rola spotted footprints that were disappearing as more snow fell, and he saw a shovel.

"I felt led to dig," he said.

Rescuers, seeing the sole of a child's boot, dug faster and residents joined in the rescue, some with their bare hands.

"When I first hit the boot, you just try and stay positive and hopeful," Rola said. "You get that ray of hope and everybody just started working together trying to get these kids out. And as the snow kept coming come off, you started to see more and more movement and then you started to hear the voices and it was a very great feeling."

The boys were conscious but suffering from exposure.

"I felt so happy," Elijah said. "Everything we went through just fell right off my back."

"I'm just glad they got that big block off my chest, that was heavy," Jason said.

The cousins appeared healthy Friday, with Jason dressed in plaid pajamas and Elijah still wearing his snow pants and a black sweatshirt with skulls. They said they wanted to eat and go to Disney World when they got home from the hospital, but Jason's mother said she wasn't sure when they would be discharged.

Critical thinking challenge: Which clue" led rescuers to the boys?

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Assigned 16 times

  • AAlexandra-Cas
    12/03/2014 - 08:53 a.m.

    The clue that led rescuers to the boys was the footprints that were disappearing as more snow fell. These boys are very lucky to even be alive. They are lucky the police did not think they were kidnapped and thought to look in the snow. I do not think this is the childrens fault in any way, i believe the plow truck driver should be blamed for this tragedy. He/She should be more aware of his/her surroundings so no more children and/or adults are traumatized from being trapped in a snow bank.

  • cshields-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 11:45 a.m.

    im amazed that the boys were ok i wonder if the boys learned ANY THING something like this happened at my house but i got out seconds before it fell

  • ttravillion-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 11:48 a.m.

    the clue that they had was the fact that they could see the sole of the child's boot. The also said that as they began to take the snow off, they started to see more movement and hear voices.

  • LEcho-Cas
    12/03/2014 - 11:49 a.m.

    This is crazy. These boys are extremely lucky to be alive. It did not say if they got frostbite, which I'm curious about. They are lucky they at least had each other.

  • csandusky-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    how do you get stuck under snow. but they ok now did they even try to get free cuz it it just snow u can dig out or something.

  • jgolden-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    that's crazy the parents didn't even know were the boys where and the whole neighbor hood went to help dig out the boy that's a sign that their still good people in this world

  • ttaylor-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 11:53 a.m.

    this is really a crazy thing I thought when I first heard about it. this is dangerous. I think that's good that they survived wondering what they did that whole time. What did they do?

  • EW2001blue
    12/03/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    The clue that led the researchers tot he boys are the foot prints that were in the snow. If it wasn't for the foot prints and the shovel being there, the police officers and neighbors searching for the boys would have never found the boys.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    12/03/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    It's crazy for me to think that somebody can even get trapped under snow that's falling. It's not even like he got trapped because of an avalanche or something, it was just a snowstorm. Thank god he wasn't totally trapped and people could see his foot because that is the clue that led rescuers to him!

  • Aw2001soccer
    12/03/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    the clue that led them to the boys was that they saw footprints that started to stop and they saw a shovel and a kids boot and they started digging and they found the boys

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