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17-year-old dead, one missing after teens fall through the ice on the Rideau River in Ottawa

Ottawa police say one youth is dead and the search continues for a second after they fell through the ice on the Rideau River in Ottawa’s south end.

Emergency crews responded to a call at 9:45 p.m. Wednesday for four youth who had fallen through the ice along Nicolls Island Road near Manotick.

Police say two youths were rescued by first responders and transported to hospital. A 15-year-old girl and a 17-year-old boy were treated for mild hypothermia, according to paramedics.

“Two more youths – 16-year-old and 17-year-old males – were still missing and believed to be in the water,” Ottawa police said in a statement Thursday morning.

“A rescue operation including a surface and water search in very difficult conditions continued through the night.”

Police say officers with the Marine Unit and the Ottawa Fire Water Rescue Unit searched the area overnight.

The body of one of the missing youths was recovered, police said.

The search continued Thursday morning for the second missing youth.

“This tragic incident affects us all and we have offered supports to the loved ones of the youths,” police said.

An Ottawa Police Service marked cruiser blocks a section of a road on Thursday, Dec. 28, 2023, following reports of four teenagers who fell through the ice near Nicholls Island Rd. in Ottawa’s Manotick region. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer ColbyA GoFundMe page set up for the victim identified him as 17-year-old Ahmed Haitham.

“Ahmed Haitham was a teenager who was graduating in February 2024, he had aspirations to become a police man and was even being recruited,” the GoFundMe said.

“Ahmed and his friends had went out to skate at Nicolls Island. Only a few nights after a green Christmas, the ice had been melting due to warmer weather. Ahmed arrived at the river and was only trying to enjoy his winter break with his friends. When he arrived at the river and put on his skates, he took a few steps on the ice and unfortunately the ice broke.”

The page says Ahmed and his friends ‘fought for their lives’ and were wearing heavy winter pants, jackets and heavy skates. 

Carly Roome, a resident who made the 9-1-1 call, says one of the teens came to the door of her childhood home and asked her for help.

“He knocked on our door and rang our doorbell and was just saying his friend fell through the ice and he needed help,” she said.

“We called in and drove him back up to the bridge and his sister was there so we just waited for the police to arrive.”

Roome says she stayed with the teen for a while and waited for police to arrive.

“I’m really shaken up. I feel really bad for the kid that lost his friend,” she said.

“He ran all the way to our house and I really feel for him. I think he did everything that he could. And he did all the right things to try to save his friend.” 

An Ottawa police officer was transported to hospital with a dive-related injury, according to paramedics.

Ottawa has seen warmer-than-normal temperatures through December, with five straight days of temperatures above 0 C. The temperature hit 6.6 C on Tuesday and 4.1 C on Wednesday.

Ontario Provincial Police is reminding residents to use caution and assess ice and its quality before venturing out onto a frozen lake or river. 

This is a breaking news story. CTV News Ottawa will have the latest as it becomes available. 

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