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Video shows woman, 2 dogs rescued after fall through ice in Mantua

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MANTUA, Box Elder County — A woman and her two dogs are safe and recovering after they fell through the ice at Mantua Reservoir on Sunday.

Police said the 32-year-old woman from Heber was visiting her parents in Honeyville and had gone to the reservoir to go for a walk with her dogs. While on the reservoir's east side just before 9 a.m., the dogs ran onto the ice and fell through, according to Mantua Police Chief Mike Johnson.

Johnson said the ice is still "very thin" and "just barely formed," but the woman ventured onto the lake to rescue her dogs, fell into the water and was unable to pull herself out.

During that time, an employee of Brigham City, which manages the reservoir, was driving in the area and spotted the woman. He called 911, and Brad Nelson, a part-time police officer in Mantua, was sent to help.

Nelson used a rescue device "which is basically like a Frisbee with a 200-foot rope on it," Johnson said. Nelson threw it toward the woman while standing near the shore, but the rope came up short. So he walked another 30 feet from the shore.

Nelson said he could see and hear the woman struggling, with ice up to her chest, as he slowly made his way forward.

"I could feel the ice cracking under my feet," Nelson said.

After two or three more attempts, the woman had a grasp on the end of the rope.

"At one point, she said she couldn't hang on any longer (and) went down. I could see, pretty much, her face in the water," Nelson said. "She was able to grab ahold of the device, pull herself up and we were able to pull her out."

Johnson said the woman was in the water for about 10 minutes total. By then, her dogs had climbed out, and she was taken to the Brigham City Community Hospital for mild hypothermia. Both the woman and her dogs are in good condition, he said.

Officers learned that the woman took off her coat, gloves, hat, phone and wallet before going after the dogs.

"Somebody was watching over her today, definitely," Johnson said. "Because it isn't often, especially on a Sunday morning, that anybody will be going on that side of the reservoir up there."

Nelson said as a police officer, he wasn't trained to respond in such a situation. But something else kicked in that prompted him to respond the way he did.

"Just flying by the seat of your pants, really," he said. "I knew she needed to get out, and I knew I had a piece of equipment that was pretty much her only chance at this point. I knew the basics of it. I did what I had to do.

"I was concerned that she wasn't going to have the strength to pull herself out of the water. I know it takes a lot of energy to do that. I'm sure she was numb at that point," he said. "That's a long time to be in the water, and then to have the strength that she did to pull herself out, to me, is amazing."

Johnson said the time of the season and fluctuating temperatures have kept the ice too thin for recreation, especially ice fishing.

"If they fall in, as far as they go out ice fishing, it's almost impossible to reach them, especially on the first few days when it freezes over," he said. "All we can do is urge caution and common sense."

Johnson also praised Nelson for responding so quickly and successfully rescuing the woman, despite the risks.

"He was really a hero today. He risked his life as well," he said.

Contributing: Nicole Vowell

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