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Photographer pulls man out of icy lake

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MALAD, Idaho — An Idaho Falls photographer used an extension cord and his truck to help rescue a fisherman who had fallen through the thin ice.

Clay Ross had just finished a job in southeastern Idaho and was returning home on I-15 near Malad's Devil Creek Reservoir when he saw two men struggling near the boat ramp.

A recent cold spell had frozen the surface of the popular fishing hole, and Scott Ravsten, a 78-year-old from Tremonton, says he wandered onto the ice with a ski pole as a probe before falling through. His brother, 76-year-old Judd Ravsten, of Malad, was struggling to help when Ross arrived.

"I knew I didn't have much in my truck, but I did have an extension cord," Ross, 46, told the State Journal. "I grabbed it and went out on the ice, laid down on my stomach and tried to flatten myself out the best I could."

Judd Ravsten, who is dependent on portable oxygen, had already thrown his brother one end of a ratcheting tie-down strap, but was too weak to get his brother from the water.

"I thought, 'This is useless,'" Scott Ravsten recalls, of his brother struggling at the other end of the line. "I thought I'd had it."

Ross tied the extension cord to the tie-down strap, then secured the extension cord to a towing hook on his truck. As he started to move the truck, however, Ravsten lost his grip on the strap and slipped back into the water.

On his second attempt, Ravsten wrapped the strap several times around his arm, so Ross was able to pull him to safety. Ravsten used the last of his reserves to get his leg onto the ice.

"I gave it another tug and he came out of the ice and I pulled him all the way across the ice and up onto the bank," Ross said.

Ravsten, who couldn't walk after his ordeal, was treated at the Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello for hypothermia after spending 15 minutes in the icy water.

"When they checked him at the lake, the EMTs reported his temperature was 86 degrees, which is really unheard of," said Dr. Steve Johnson, who helped save Ravsten. "I was worried about his kidneys shutting down. His extremities, they were just purple, so I was worried about his losing his feet or hands or something."

By late last week, Ravsten's organs hadn't failed and he still had all his limbs. By Friday, he was able to sit up in his hospital bed and tell the story of his near-death experience.

"I started thinking about sinking," Ravsten said. "I was thinking about my wife. I wondered how long it would take to lose consciousness."