GREENWICH, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A 13-year-old boy died after he and another boy were pulled from a snow bank in Washington County Tuesday evening.
The community is now grieving and trying to figure out how something as simple as building a snow fort turned into such a devastating tragedy.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Greenwich Police Chief George Bell repeatedly commended the investigators he said dug through tons of packed snow to find 13-year-old Joshua J. Demarest, and 12-year-old Tyler J. Day.
“Day tells his dad and my officers in the emergency room last night that he heard, what he believed was, beeping sounds and the next thing you know it went black,” Chief Bell said.
Both boys live on Rock Road, where the incident occurred. Police say the boys were digging holes for forts in a snow bank in a parking lot where public works crews dump plowed snow.
Around 5 p.m., Chief Bell says Day’s sister reported him missing when he and Demarest never returned home from playing outside. Police say public works crews were out plowing snow around the same time.
Investigators searching for the children followed tracks from behind the house of the boys to a parking lot, where a State Police K-9 unit found a sled covered in snow.
The sled belonged to one of the boys. The sled was found close to where they children were trapped.
Police say over a dozen police, firefighters and other investigators dug with their hands and shovels to move hundreds of pounds of hard packed snow.
“I bet they moved seven tons of snow easily out of that pile by hand, shovels, snow rakes,” Chief Bell said.
At around 7:15 p.m., nearly four hours after, it’s believed the last DPW crew dumped snow on the bank, trapping the boys. Police say Demarest was found unresponsive, and emergency personnel immediately began to perform CPR.
Investigators found Day a few minutes later. Both boys were rushed to Saratoga Hospital, where Demarest was pronounced dead a little after 10 p.m.
Day suffered from hypothermia, but is now home recovering.
“You can actually see the little pocket in that huge bank that he survived in and it is nothing short of a miracle,” police said.
Department of Public Works Superintendent Leo Flynn says there’s no way his workers could have seen the teens.
“The guys are devastated,” said Flynn. “I mean again, they’re all firemen. They all have kids in the school and grandkids and yeah, they’re struggling with it as to be expected.”
“A true accident,” Chief Bell said. “That’s all I can tell you. A tragedy all the way around. There was no way that anybody could have seen the kids burrowed in back there.”
On Wednesday, mourners came to lay flowers in memory of Demarest. Flowers were put there by Day’s father. He says his son is physically okay, but not doing well with this horrific tragedy that killed his friend.
Superintendent of Greenwich Schools Mark Fish says he was an active boy who loved the outdoors and soccer.
“I found out he was in the French Club as well, I wouldn’t have known that but you know, pretty well rounded. Good student. Well-liked by his peers,” Fish said.
The school of course has counselors on hand to help students and staff and the superintendent says they will be there as long as they are needed.