The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 21, 1996 · Page 8
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 8

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Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 21, 1996
Page:
Page 8
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A8 SUNDAY. JANUARY 21. 1996 NATION THE SAUNA JOURNAL T ICE TRAGEDY Accidental death inspires lecture Boy who lost friend in frigid pond joins in ice-safety lecture By FRANK BAKER The Associated Press WARWICK, R.I. — Ten-year-old Justin Hicks doesn't remember falling through an ice-covered pond, being pulled unconscious from the frigid water or spending nearly two weeks in a coma. Still, he bravely took the stage and struggled to answer questions from several hundred grade school- ers who wanted to know what it was like to have a friend die. He didn't say much, but somehow his courage came through. Justin and Christopher Martini, 7, ventured onto Warwick's Spring Green Pond on Dec. 10 when they plunged through the ice. Christopher's brother, Thomas, 9, tried to rescue them but also fell in. A fourth friend ran for help. The three boys were unconscious when rescuers pulled them out. Christopher died eight days later; Thomas continues rehabilitation at Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence. "It was the worst possible situa- The Associated Press Colleen Green helps her son Justin Hicks, 10, work with clay to improve the dexterity in his hand muscles. tion," one of the rescuers, firefighter Charles Donilon, told the students as part of an ice safety lecture inspired by the accident. Donilon said there was a hole in the ice and no sign of life, meaning divers had to search for bodies in murky, icy water. They found Thomas first, then Justin, then Christopher. "Their hearts had stopped beating and they weren't breathing," Donilon told the wide-eyed children. "They really were, well, dead." Justin remained unconscious for 12 days, but slowly showed signs of improvement. He began talking two weeks after the accident. He went home last week, and is continuing therapy as an outpatient. Colleen Green, grateful for her son's remarkably fast recovery but still pained by Christopher's death, decided even before Justin came home that they should promote ice safety among children. "I said that if this child came out of this, even if he's in a wheelchair the rest of his life, he can help other children," she said. "I don't want any other parent or child to go through what I did, or the boys did." Donilon said he was so affected by the experience, that he also decided to go to local schools to warn youngsters about the danger of playing on ice-covered waters. At Green's suggestion, Justin joined him. "The kids can relate to one of their peers," Donilon said. Justin, a thin, soft-spoken boy who still walks haltingly and is working to regain full use of his hands and voice, nodded, shrugged or gave one-word answers to most queries from the children at Holliman Elementary School. 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