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NEWS | Jan. 11, 2022

Vermont Guardsman rescues 3 from frozen lake

By Joshua Cohen, Joint Force Headquarters - Vermont National Guard Public Affairs

COLCHESTER, Vt. – Immediate action by Vermont National Guard Staff Sgt. John Hampson on Christmas Day “very likely saved the lives of three people,” according to U.S. Navy Reserve Cmdr. Jordan Gottfried.

And Gottfried should know: After falling through ice into the freezing water of Clearwater Lake in Maine, he was one of the three people Hampson rescued.

Hampson was visiting his cousin, who happened to be Gottfried’s wife, over the holiday when the Gottfrieds’ 5-year-old son walked out into the partially frozen lake and fell through the ice “into water up to his neck,” Gottfried explained.

Gottfried said when he realized what happened, “my wife and I launched out the door of the house and ran barefoot through the snow to reach the lake. Both of us slid into the frozen water but unfortunately realized we could not get out.”

Initially, Hampson ran out onto the lake, falling through the ice. “When it looked like it was going to be a problem with more people going through the ice, I saw the bigger picture and got things organized,” he said.

Hampson improvised some rescue equipment, a rope, and a plastic boat. He then directed family members to form a daisy chain to reach the three and pull them from the icy water.

“Hampson began medical intervention for my son, who had been in the frozen lake for an unknown time, while also initiating a safe and effective rescue for my wife and myself,” Gottfried said. “He was able to extricate us from the water within a few seconds, without incurring further risk to others.”

After ensuring all family members were present and safe, “over the next several hours, Staff Sgt. Hampson repeatedly checked vitals on my son, wife, and myself,” Gottfried said. “In addition, he performed other lifesaving techniques following a cold emergency, safely and slowly warming us up, wrapping my son in a sleeping bag, ensuring that we received fluids, and monitoring continuously for shock.”

Gottfried commended Hampson’s “total commitment to the well-being of others. His professionalism as a mountain operations and rescue expert and selfless devotion to others, well beyond the call of duty, represent the highest ideals and best character of our Armed Forces, and his actions are to be commended.”