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

  • RM00charlie
    12/04/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    the clue that lead the rescuers was the one officer found foot prints in the snow and started digging then her found the sole of the one kids shoe

    12/04/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    He saw the two boys' footprints and he also noticed their shovel was laying down near by. They also saw the sole of one of the boys' boots.

  • MS01bestfreind
    12/04/2014 - 01:04 p.m.

    I truly think that its a blessing for them boys to still be alive. I would probably never like snow again if this happened to me.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    12/04/2014 - 06:09 p.m.

    Aw... It's a good thing the boys had each other and were not stuck there alone. If it were me I probably would not have had any hope of getting rescued. It had to have been terrifying and heart-breaking to hear people searching for them but not having the ability to respond and let them know they were so close to them.

  • BrigitteA-3
    12/04/2014 - 10:55 p.m.

    Last week, 11-year-old Elijah Martinez, and his 9-year-old cousin Jason Riviera, were buried in 5 ft of snow while building an igloo. For several hours police and the boys' parents were searching frantically for them. A searching police officer spotted footprints and a boot leading to the pile of snow and began to dig. Neighbors and scared parents dug as fast as they could until they got the boys out. They were trapped for 7 hours but recovered quickly at a early hospital. I think that if I were to be stuck in the same position that the two cousins would be stuck in, I would think that I would never make it out alive. I have only been in snow a couple of times, but with those brief experiences I know how cold, dark, and scary it would be to be buried under 5 feet of snow.

  • ConnorK-2
    12/05/2014 - 12:27 a.m.

    Who knew that building a snow fort could potentially end you life! Two boys, Elijah and Jason, were out side building a fort on a snowy day. A snowplow suddenly came by swiping snow across the boys. they were fully covered. they were unable to get free and suffering from extreme cold. The parents had no idea where they were. They called the police and even the police had trouble finding them. Finally Officer Brandon Rola saw foot prints and a shovel. They started to dig and hit a pair of boots. The citizens kept on digging, until finally they were both free. Both of the boys were fine but were suffering from exposure. I am now terrified of snowplows.

  • DD2001green
    12/05/2014 - 08:46 a.m.

    They found footprints in the snow that led to the pile. Them they found a shovel. So they thought the kids got trapped in the pile of snow.

  • CharismaM
    12/05/2014 - 01:49 p.m.

    This is and amazing and unique story. It's a miracle that these boys were found before it was too late. People should be more careful and watch out when they are shoveling the snow. This could have ended way worse than it did.

  • ratiaira
    12/05/2014 - 01:53 p.m.

    that is horrible it must have been so cold i cant imagine what they went through but i know it wasn't pleasant that is amazing that they got out safely from that tragedy

  • MadisonSch
    12/05/2014 - 01:54 p.m.

    It would be really scary to be under snow for hours without people knowing where you were. You would be freezing and would not be able to move and barely breath.

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