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

  • NashMcComsey-Ste
    12/03/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    Thank goodness this story ended alright, what an unfortunate event. Hopefully, in the future, more thought will be put into the boy's location of their snow fort, and more care will be taken by the snow plow driver,s so that something like this will not happen again.

  • stownsend-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 01:16 p.m.

    Seeing previous comments, I agree, but I also disagree. The plow driver should have been more aware of his surroundings. The parents of the children, however, should have been paying attention to their kids. They should have also told them not to play around and build a snow fort on the corner of a street. I am very glad that these boys are okay, but I just find that this was poor parenting on their part.

  • mshelly-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 01:19 p.m.

    This is so scary! I'm glad the boys got out of the snow safe! I couldn't even imagine how terrified the two boys and their families must have been.

  • greylynd
    12/03/2014 - 01:26 p.m.

    Well the happy thing is that the kids are still alive,even tho they could could not breath very well. One on them lost his hat and the other lost a glove. and the still survive. wow!

  • Kandie_Kane_299
    12/03/2014 - 01:28 p.m.

    I think that the snowplow driver should be more careful, so stuff like this doesn't happen. The kids could have been killed and this could have been avoided if the driver was more careful.

  • TaylorHartman-Ste
    12/03/2014 - 01:29 p.m.

    I really cannot believe that this was possible to happen. The fact that these children were not found for seven hours is ridiculous and very saddening.

  • JuvenileJellyfish
    12/03/2014 - 01:32 p.m.

    Two things could've prevented this, one being the kids weren't out while the snowplow is out. And two being that the snowplow driver should've been more careful. None of this would've happen if either of those would've happened.

  • tzavetsky-Cla
    12/03/2014 - 01:35 p.m.

    Why was the driver not paying attention to where the plow was pushing the snow? How hard was the snow blowing? These are the things that come to mind when I think about this situation.

  • chriss-Koc
    12/04/2014 - 12:40 a.m.

    these kids are troopers, that is amazing that they survived 7 hours under snow. they are lucky to be alive, they are lucky that someone found them when they did. I would have flipped out and had a heart attack.

  • carsen.basso48
    12/04/2014 - 12:44 p.m.

    These poor kids. Elijah, one of he boys who got trapped under the snow, and Jason. I can't belive that, they got stuck under a bunch of snow. They were feeling horrified! They were finally found after seven hours of horror.

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