March 24, 2013

Teen helps rescue snowmobiler from Lake Flower


---- — SARANAC LAKE — A 15-year-old helped rescue a snowmobiler who fell through the ice on Lake Flower.

At about 3 p.m. Friday, Ivan Irvine and his mother, Amanda Smith-Irvine, spotted two men on snowmobiles driving across the lake at high speed.

“Lake Flower is an open channel; it doesn’t freeze solid,” the Bloomingdale woman said. “They were flying over open water.”

For 15 minutes, she drove back and forth along Lake Flower Avenue near Mountain Mist Ice Cream.

“The more I watched, the more I feared” for the two men’s safety, she said.

Soon after she had called New York State Police in Ray Brook and alerted them to the situation, one of the machines and its driver fell through the ice about 100 feet from shore, Amanda said.

State Department of Environmental Conservation later identified him as Shawn Whales.

“The snowmobile went down immediately, and the guy, his helmet’s still sitting on top of what remains of the ice,” she said.

“We got out of the car and we ran.”


Amanda quickly called 911, while Whales swam diagonally to the dock and Ivan helped pull him out of the frigid water, she said.

Her son had wanted to jump into the water to help the man, Amanda said.

But she wouldn’t allow it.

“We’ll have two rescues” then, she said.

Ivan said he wasn’t sure how long it took the other snowmobiler to realize what had happened to Whales.

“His friend was way ahead of him,” he said.

Amanda said she scolded the men for driving recklessly.

“Teenagers are one thing. They were grown men. If that water was not open, and they went through the ice, they might not have been able to find their way back up.”


Once Whales was safely out of the water, Amanda advised him to wait in his car to avoid hypothermia before the rescue crews arrived.

But he was gone before they arrived, she said.

Amanda said the story shows the importance of looking out for others.

“I don’t think a lot of other people, to be honest with you, would have taken the time to go around and make sure they were all right,” she said. “I’m glad they’re OK. I hope they learned their lesson.”

The DEC released no further information about the incident on Friday.

Adirondack Medical Center had no record of Whales being admitted for treatment.

Ray Brook-based State Police said they notified DEC of the incident and did not respond to the call.

Saranac Lake Police Chief Bruce Nason said the department was directing all questions to DEC.

— Staff Writer Lohr McKinstry contributed to this report.