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Brave bystanders help save children from icy Alaska water

A pair of bystanders helped rescue two young children who fell through thin ice in western Alaska.

Cory LePore Sr. heard screams coming from the slough that runs near his Bethel home and behind a convenience store last week, he told KYUK-AM .

“I happen to look over and there was a young lady and a small boy sitting in the middle of the slough, waist deep in the water,” LePore said.

LePore went over to the children and examined the ice. The freezing water was running fast underneath the surface. He didn’t know how deep it was, so he instructed the children to get to a patch of ground nearby, he said.

“So I instructed them to roll and stand on some solid ground, and stand and wait,” LePore said.

LePore was running to his truck to grab a pallet when saw the girl falling back into the freezing water, but then Joseph Joekay appeared. Joekay ran from the nearby store to help.

“And when I was running up to my truck I heard screaming and turned around, and the young girl was started to go through the ice,” LePore said. “Right then, Joseph took off his shoes, socks, and pulled up his sweat pants and made a beeline for the young lady.”


Joekay dashed into the water and carried the girl on his back.

“That poor girl, she was the first one I brought up, and I slipped,” Joekay said.

Joekay held the girl up as the water went up to his neck. He made it to stable land and went back for the boy.

An ambulance responded, but both men said the children seemed fine after the ordeal.

Mark Leary, a volunteer with Bethel Search and Rescue, said parents need to keep their children off the ice, especially when there are warm periods in between cold ones.