2 fathers, mother dead after falling through ice on Arizona lake

2 children, woman tried to rescue their loved ones and also fell in to Coconino County lake

ByZach Crenshaw, KNXV
Thursday, December 29, 2022
3 dead after 6 fall through ice on Arizona lake
There was a Woods Canyon Lake, AZ accident in which 6 people fell through ice in Arizona, and 3 died, Coconino County officials said.

COCONINO COUNTY, Ariz. -- Six people fell through the ice on an Arizona lake Monday, and three died, local officials said.

It was a slow and somber process Tuesday, as divers geared up for a recovery effort.

The rescue window had closed.

On the day after Christmas, three families, six adults and five kids, drove north to Woods Canyon Lake from the Phoenix area to enjoy the snowy outdoors.

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"It's hard," said Jon Paxton, with the Coconino County, Arizona Sheriff's Office. "They were up here, recreational, enjoying it, wanted to get some pictures out on the ice."

That's when three of the parents fell through the ice and into the 30-degree water.

"So hypothermia sets in very quickly at that point. And, if you're not a swimmer, it's that much more difficult," Paxton said.

Firefighters told KNXV two children and a woman tried to rescue their loved ones, but they fell into the water themselves and barely made it to the shore.

By the time someone got cell service and first responders arrived with limited resources, it was too late.

One father and both parents of two little girls had died.

"You never get used to it, especially when you're dealing with the children," Paxton said.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety had to be called Monday to take custody of the orphaned girls.

"We wanted to make sure they felt as safe as possible, tried to keep them warm and away from the scene as best we could," Paxton said.

The fathers' bodies were found Tuesday.

While the recovery had ended, everyone on the shore was thinking about the kids, the families and their recovery.