Crews are searching for the bodies of a man and a woman who were presumed drowned when they tried to rescue 6-year-old Garrett Wallace when he fell into the icy Big Sioux River in South Dakota.
Garrett fell into the icy river in Sioux Falls around 6 p.m. Thursday while playing under a pedestrian bridge inside a park in the South Dakota capital, the Argus Leader reported.
Garrett was able to get out of the fast-moving and icy river, but his sister and a man disappeared into the waterway while trying to rescue him, according to the Associated Press. The Argus Leader identified Garrett’s sister as Madison Wallace, 16, and the man as Sioux Falls resident Lyle Eagletail, 28.
Madison and Eagletail are presumed drowned, and crews were trying to recover their bodies from the icy river Friday.
Nathan Ducheneaux, Eagletail’s friend, witnessed him fall into the river while trying to help Madison and her brother. He said Garrett might not be alive had it not been for their efforts.
"These people literally jumped in without thinking of their own safety and trying to rescue that child," he told the AP. "It's a very noble act that they did, and they probably contributed to saving that boy's life."
Sioux Falls Fire Chief Jim Sideras told the news wire service that Garret hadn’t been in the icy river “that long.”
He said crews trying to search for the bodies of Madison and Eagletail are battling strong currents and thick sheets of ice in their recovery attempt. They’re also risking hypothermia, Sideras said.
The Big Sioux River also has “large amounts of foam,” according to the AP, and firefighters are trying to combat the problem by blowing the foam away with water hoses.
The ice is another large obstacle, according to the Argus Leader.
The paper said a dive team deployed in an effort to recover the bodies were suited up but can’t begin their search until the ice is broken up.
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