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Official: Family who fell through ice made ‘bad decision’

In a swift, well-executed operation, firefighters on Sunday swam through icy water to rescue an Arlington family who fell through thin ice more than 100 feet from shore.

First responders fell through the ice on Spy Pond as they tried to reach the couple and their 3-year-old son, but were able to swim to them, take the boy from his mother’s arms, and place him on a rescue sled to be pulled back to safety, fire officials said today.

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“As they proceeded towards the victims, they started to break through the ice themselves,” said Bob Jefferson, the fire chief in Arlington.

Crews then pulled the wife back, and then the husband. The operation took less than 10 minutes, despite “extremely limited visibility,” officials said.

In a dramatic 911 call, a woman told a dispatcher that three people had fallen into the frozen water of the pond.

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“I don’t feel like we can go and help them,” the woman said.

Shouts for help can be heard in the background throughout the call, and just before hanging up, the woman shouts, “The fire department is in the way. Hang on, hang on.”

The family was treated for injuries and hypothermia but are expected to be fine.

Firefighters could see the family’s heads and shoulders as they struggled to stay above water that was at least six feet deep.

A relative of the family who stayed on shore called police around 5:30 p.m. Deputy Fire Chief Jim Bailey, one of the rescuers, said venturing onto the ice was “a bad decision on their part.”

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.
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