“I felt led to dig.”
Police Officer Brandon Rola, who found two boys who were buried under a huge snow mound on Wednesday night. The boys, ages 9 and 11, were building a snow fort in a mound at a parking lot near a Newburgh, NY apartment complex when a plow clearing the lot pushed more powder onto the pile, trapping the boys underneath, police say.
Police say the plow operator was clearing snow from the opposite side of the mound and wouldn’t have known know he had buried the children.
The boys, who are cousins, were trapped under 6 or 7 feet of snow for hours in sub-freezing temperatures and one of their mothers set out looking for them when they didn’t return by about 10 p.m. When she and other family members couldn’t find the boys, they called police to report them missing.
Officers canvased the apartment complex for the cousins, knocked on doors and interviewed other children in the neighborhood. They eventually learned that the cousins had been building a snow fort in the parking lot of a health center near the apartment complex.
Officer Rola went to the health center and found a shovel half-buried in the snow mound. He grabbed it and started digging, eventually unearthing a small snow boot.
“When I first hit the boot, you just try and stay positive and hopeful,” Rola said. “You get that ray of hope and everybody just started working together trying to get these kids out. And as the snow kept coming come off, you started to see more and more movement and then you started to hear the voices and it was a very great feeling.”
The officer called for help and police, EMS workers and community members started digging for the boys. Some had shovels, while other clawed at the snow with bare hands. They eventually freed both of the children at about 2 a.m. Thursday.
Watch an interview with the two boys: