William Rogers had ice skated for decades. But it only takes one time for disaster to strike, which happened when the tech school teacher broke through the ice on Salmon Falls River.
"It was just that terrible feeling. ‘Oh my god, I'm going in the water,’" he recalled. "First thing I did was try to walrus up on the ice, knowing that I needed to get out of the water as quickly as possible, and the ice just kept breaking underneath me.
Hypothermia quickly set in. Finding himself alone without access to his phone, Rogers wasn’t sure if he would survive.
"I remember telling myself, 'OK, don't panic. Don't panic. Figure out what your options are here,'" he said. "That's when it occurred to me."
Rogers realized he could use his Apple Watch to call for help. Still, he knew time wasn’t on his side.
"It worked. Saved my life, I think-- So I told them that I probably had 10 minutes before I was not gonna be able to respond anymore," he explained. "And, of course, the hard part is thinking about my family and nobody ever wants to get a call like that."
Firefighters made it to the scene in five minutes and fished him out.
Rogers said, "I'm really grateful for them. So thank those folks. I thank them."
Chief George Kramlinger of the Somersworth Fire Department said Rogers did exactly what he was supposed to when he found himself in distress, noting, "[He] kept his wits about him, he remained calm and he did what he had to do to ensure his survival."
But both he and Rogers stressed the importance of caution on the ice when the weather warms up, with the chief adding, "It's just really a dangerous situation getting on the ice and like I said, at this point, no ice is safe."
"Don't go onto the ice unless you know exactly how thick it is," Rogers said. "The nurse at the ER said, 'Buy a lottery ticket.'"
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