A father and his six-year-old son were saved Sunday night after they fell through the ice on Lake Muskoka near Port Carling.

People living in the area described the terrifying sounds they heard ringing out over the lake late at night.

“I heard screams coming from the lake,” says area resident Jason Mortimer. “Screams for help, and it’s a pretty eerie sound when you hear that.”

By the time rescue crews arrived the screaming has stopped, and it was dark.
Tracks in the snow showed where the father and son had tried to get out on to the ice, but the ice was too thin for emergency crews to safety retrace the father and son’s steps.

Mortimer, who works at the nearby marina, used his airboat to bring crews to the area where the father and son are believed to have gone through. But the pair was nowhere to be seen.

Muskoka Lakes Deputy Fire Chief Harry Baranik later saw footprints in the snow.

“We saw two set of tracks, walking away from the hole in the ice,” he says.

The tracks let them to a boathouse, which was open but had no heat.

The freezing father and son were found inside.

“The son was on a couch, the father was standing over top of him, and again they were shivering. He was becoming less and less coherent,” says Baranik.

On Monday a backpack and a helmet could still be seen floating on Lake Muskoka, near the spot where the father and son fell through.

It’s still not known if the two were wearing life jackets. Both were taken to the hospital and will be okay.

Deputy Chief Baranik says there is no question the airboat made a significant impact on the success of the rescue and he may approach council for one in the coming years.