Elisha Page / AP
An excavator is used to break up a sheet of ice on the Big Sioux River, below the falls at Falls Park Friday, March 15, 2013.
Emergency crews searched Friday for the bodies of a man and woman who jumped into the icy waters of the Big Sioux River in South Dakota to save a six-year-old child before the two were swept off by the raging current themselves.
The boy is safe, but Sioux Falls authorities said on Friday morning that the effort to find the two adults is now considered a recovery and no longer a rescue mission.
The two jumped into the river near Sioux Falls around 6 p.m. local time on Thursday after the young boy fell in, according to local NBC affiliate KDLT.
Police identified the young boy as Garrett Wallace of Vermillion, S.D. at a Friday afternoon press conference, according to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. The woman was identified as the boy’s 16-year-old sister Madison Wallace, and the man as Lyle Eagletail of Sioux Falls, the local paper reported.
“By the time I got there he was already in there and they had him by the arm,” Napoleon Ducheneaux, a friend of the man who dove in, told KDLT.
“They had the kid in his arm and he slipped and fell. And then not too long after that, the kid popped up a little bit to the right and climbed up the rocks by himself," he added.
The two rescuers found themselves in trouble.
“I heard him and the woman talking. He said something like, ‘You hold on to me, I’ll hold on to you.’ And I kept telling them to come to my voice,” Ducheneaux told KDLT.
The two then slipped under the water, Ducheneaux said.
Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief Jim Sideras said a crane might be brought in to help rescue workers in the icy river.
"We have some issues with very thick ice that we are trying to address. We also have a high flow of water because of ice melting," he said.
"We have a lot of foam. We have on the scene crews who are trained in swift water rescue and ice rescue. We also have on site a dive team. Because of the thickness of the ice, it's not possible for that team to go in. We are still doing search patterns," he added.
Sideras told KDLT that the boy was safe with family members. “I was with him and he’s with family members, and he’s doing fine,” Sideras said.
A search is still underway for two missing rescuers who jumped into freezing water in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to save a six-year old boy. The boy is now safe at home.
This story was originally published on Fri Mar 15, 2013 6:42 AM EDT