‘It just breaks your heart:’ Witness recalls moments after teen boys fell through frozen Cobb lake

Cobb County firefighters are sending a warning about the dangers of ice after two teens fell through a frozen lake Wednesday night, leaving one of them dead.

Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell was at Ellison Lake in Kennesaw on Wednesday night where officials told her two 16-year-old boys were playing on the frozen lake and fell through.

A Kennesaw officer was able to pull one boy to safety, but lost sight of the other. The second boy died from his injuries.

Firefighters are now reminding the community about how dangerous it is to venture out on a body of water when the temperatures dip low.

“Keep an eye on your young folks. Make sure that they are not playing in areas that may be unsafe,” Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services Public Information Officer Nick Danz said. “It’s not safe to go out on any body of water or trust the ice on any body of water.”

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Witnesses told Newell they were shocked by the tragic accident on a lake that looked nothing like it does today.

“There was about five or six kids out here, and they were all screaming, ‘Help, help, we need help!,” witness Hayleigh James said. “They were like standing at the edge like, ‘How can we get our friend?”

James said she saw one of the teens’ mothers run to the lake in an attempt to rescue the boys.

“The mom, she came out here screaming. She had a pool noodle. She was trying to save them, and you know it just breaks your heart,” James said.


James and other neighbors called 911.

“The police was really the first one to get in the water. He took off everything, and he was throwing things out trying to pull them in, another police officer went in there too,” she described.

Rescuers spent nearly two hours in surface water temperatures that were as low as 28 degrees searching for the second teen. They found him, but he did not survive.

“I’m a teacher, so it breaks my heart, because if I come back to school and I see one of my kids isn’t there, and I find out they fell in the water and they didn’t survive, that’s going to break my heart,” she said.

One of the four responders who helped during the rescue suffered hypothermia. All four are recovering from injuries.

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Cobb County School District released a statement to Newell on Thursday afternoon that read:

“Our hearts are heavy following the news of the passing of a Kennesaw Mountain High School student. This loss comes at a particularly challenging time during the holidays. Our thoughts and heartfelt sympathy are with the student’s family and friends, and school counselors are available to support those in need during this difficult time.”