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

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

    That would be one crazy horrible moment to be in! Im glad that they are okay. They did very well trying to keep eachother warm. That probably wouldve been a hard time in there thinking either will you come out alive or will you not survive. People could start a thing on them to collect money so they could recover and get out of the hospital fast and so they can get money for a trip to Disney World.

  • DBenjamin-Cas
    12/06/2014 - 10:51 a.m.

    That is crazy how the guy didn't see the two kids. They are lucky that there was an air hole or they might have died. Also, that cop should get a reward and also you can tell that he is good at finding people because he followed the tracks. Without someone who could do that, the boys may have died before they found them. Another thing, is that the parents should have been watching them because things like this can happen at anytime.

  • MJordan-Cas
    12/06/2014 - 07:56 p.m.

    I think it is amazing that these boys are still alive. It is great that those boys didn't lose hope and kept each other warm. When the cops got them out they were so happy and everyone was relieved that they were found.

  • 3SaraS
    12/07/2014 - 09:59 a.m.

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

    The clue that led the rescuers to the boys was the footprints they saw in the snow. When they went tracing the footprints the footprints were disappearing as more snow fell. Then the rescuers saw a sole of a boot, they dug faster. Everyone (neighbors) started helping digging with bare hands even. Then when everyone got far enough they started to see movement. Then the boys came in view the boys were conscious but suffering from the cold.

  • joshn-Koc
    12/07/2014 - 02:46 p.m.

    The police officer saw footprints that faded and slowly disappeared as more snow fell. He then thought of digging in the snow to find them. He eventually started hearing voices and were able to save them.

  • shannons-Koc
    12/08/2014 - 02:40 a.m.

    The clue that was given which gave up where the boys were trapped was the disappearing footprints and the shovel. One of the officers saw the shovel and thought to dig. I think it is amazing that they found the boys. I find it even more outstanding that the boys stayed alive. I couldn't imagine being trapped in a helpless situation. It is a good thing the police and neighbors did a good thing to find those boys.

  • PJuan-Sti
    12/08/2014 - 11:50 a.m.

    I think this is amazing for these to boy to survive for 7 hours. I think if that was me I wouldnt survive for 7 hours. And thats cool that they had hope to survive. I think that they were really lucky to survive for 7 hours.

  • jordant-Koc
    12/08/2014 - 01:20 p.m.

    This story is crazy and it physically makes me cringe! Im chlosterphobic so 7 hours trapped, ANYWHERE sounds terrifying and unberrable to me. I would give up all hope in that situation and probably go crazy. Those boys are real survivors and its amazing they were still alive. It's crazy the things that can happen, especially on accident.

  • StevenT-Wit
    12/09/2014 - 10:12 a.m.

    This is amazing, to read a happy ending. I wonder what the boys felt as they were trapped underneath the snow. I am actually impressed that these boys were so brave and did not panic. I could not fathom being any of those boys parents, to see that they aren't where they are supposed to be. I'm glad that this story had a happy ending to it.

  • NatalieS-Wit
    12/09/2014 - 10:17 a.m.

    How can he not see two kids playing in the snow you would think he would and I cant imagine how there parents felt like thinking there kids just disappeared If it were me I would have thought someone kidnapped my kid and I would feel horrible. But I'm glad they are ok.

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