Mary Elizabeth Boehnen, 36, housewife, attempted to save Karen M. Fjellestad, 12, from drowning, Mitchell, South Dakota, January 17, 1959. While skating on a lake, Karen broke through thin ice 100 feet from shore and fell into water 14 feet deep. The temperature was six degrees above zero. Ice broke off around the hole as she struggled to remain afloat. Mrs. Boehnen and her sister, Mrs. Teresa Friederich, who was pregnant, immediately skated toward her. While her sister went to summon help, Mrs. Boehnen entered the water without removing her skates or any of her clothing and swam four feet to Karen, who was tiring rapidly. Following instructions, Karen placed her arms on Mrs. Boehnen’s shoulders for support; and her weight caused Mrs. Boehnen to he submerged briefly several times. Once Mrs. Boehnen came up under the ice instead of into open water. She searched for open water, found it, and surfaced. Mrs. Boehnen then obtained a chinhold on Karen and held her head above the water while waiting for help. Karen became inert, and Mrs. Boehnen towed her six feet to the edge of the hole. Tiring rapidly, she tried to lift Karen onto the ice, but it broke off. Mrs. Boehnen trod water and supported Karen for several minutes until Mrs. Friederich returned with a 12-foot ladder, which she pushed to the edge of the hole from the side where the ice was thicker. With difficulty Mrs. Boehnen towed Karen to within four feet of the ladder, where she became extremely fatigued. Karen then slipped from her grasp and sank. Mrs. Boehnen with effort made a surface dive to a depth of four feet and grasped Karen by the hair but was too weak to lift her to the surface. Mrs. Boelmen surfaced alone five feet from the ladder, nearly exhausted. Removing her jacket and skates, Mrs. Friederich entered the water and towed her sister to the ladder. Two men who had arrived and were standing on safe ice 20 feet from the hole then threw one end of a rope to Mrs. Boehnen. As the men pulled her sister from the water, Mrs. Friederich made a surface dive to a depth of eight feet in search of Karen and swam six feet underwater. Failing to find her, she returned to the surface for air and was persuaded by the men not to dive again. Mrs. Friederich swam to the edge of the hole and was drawn from the water by means of the rope. Firemen later recovered the body of Karen with grappling hooks. Mrs. Boehnen and Mrs. Friederich, who suffered from exposure, were hospitalized for three days, and they recovered.
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