Firefighter Bends Safety Rules To Save Teen’s Life

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4)- A West Metro Firefighter claims that following certain safety procedures to save a 13-year-old boy from an icy pond could have cost the teen his life.

Lt. Shaun O’Hara pulled Skylar McKinley from the reservoir at Florida and Kipling in Lakewood Thursday afternoon. But before he could get to the boy, O’Hara said he wasn’t sure how long Skylar could hang on before falling into the frigid water.

“He looked like he might not hold on much longer,” said O’Hara. “He was really pale and shivering and cold.”

ice rescue2 Firefighter Bends Safety Rules To Save Teens Life

West Metro Firefighter Lt. Shaun O'Hara crawls on the ice to rescue Skylar McKinley on Thursday in Lakewood. (credit: CBS)

O’Hara said he made a snap decision to skip putting on a special suit, and instead went on his belly out on the ice to pull Skylar to safety.

“He looked to me like he didn’t have much time left, so that’s why we made the decision to do it in a hurry,” said O’Hara.

When firefighters know for certain they have an ice rescue, they wear special gear.

“It’s a six millimeter neoprene rubber ice suit,” said West Metro Firefighter and Paramedic Brett Burke. “It would take quite a bit longer to show up on scene and be able to kick your boots off, because the hardest part is getting your lets into the suit.”

O’Hara decided Skylar could not wait for a firefighter to put on the suit, so he crawled out onto the partially-frozen surface with a life vest.

“If he slips off there, the likelihood of him coming back up again is pretty low,” said O’Hara. “Then the likelihood of a positive outcome just diminished exponentially.”

Skylar and a friend were chasing after ducks on thin ice just before he crashed through. He was checked out by paramedics and sent home with his mother.


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