Richard L. Blessen helped to save Seth Albert and Bryar Alvarado-Meyer from drowning, Duncan, Nebraska, December 25, 2013. Stepbrothers Seth and Bryar, both 14, broke through the ice covering a channel of Duncan Lakes at points about 90 and 60 feet, respectively, from the nearer bank. Unable to extract themselves, they clung to solid ice and shouted for help. Visiting at a home on the far bank in that vicinity, Blessen, 45, college administrator, heard the boys and alerted help. He then took a 17-foot aluminum canoe and flotation devices from that property to the channel and pushed the canoe out onto the ice about 30 feet toward the boys. Fearing that the ice would not hold, Blessen then entered the canoe and continued his advance by using his fingernails against the ice. When the canoe broke through the ice at a point about 10 feet from Seth, Blessen used his hands to break a path to the boy. He gave Seth a foam tube, secured a life vest around him, and guided him to an inner tube that was tied to the back of the canoe. Using a paddle, Blessen then turned the canoe and broke a path through the ice to reach Bryar, whom he also secured with a foam tube and life jacket. Blessen held to both boys along one side of the canoe as attempts to throw lines to them were made by neighbors and first responders who were gathering on both banks. Grasping the line thrown by men on the nearer bank, Blessen tied it to the canoe, and the canoe was pulled to that bank. The boys were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia, and they recovered. Blessen was cold and very tired after the rescue, and he sustained minor scrapes and bruises, from which he recovered.
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