- (Photo: WBIR)
A Tennessee pastor and his son rescued three boys between the ages of 12 and 14 who had fallen through the ice on a lake on Saturday.
Neil and Hunter Crass used their boat to reach the boys who were clinging to a buoy in the middle of Watts Bar Lake in Roane County.
The Crass' arrived on scene to an anxious crowd, many of them from a birthday party that the boys had been attending.
"You can see a lot of the people really panicking and you can see the boys 75 yards into the river," Neil, a pastor at Big Emory Baptist Church, told WBIR.
"I knew we could get the boat in the water and just get in there as fast as possible and get out there and make sure they were safe," said Hunter.
The boys had been fishing on the shore before they attempted to climb out onto the ice. After the ice broke, they hung on for nearly an hour before they were finally rescued.
While emergency crews had previously arrived on scene and attempted to rescue the trio, the Crass' boat was the only vehicle able to venture far enough into the water to reach them. Although the ice had been fragile enough for the boys to break through it, it proved challenging for the Crass' boat, and the father and son were forced to continuously break it as they moved their boat through the water.
"Hunter and I grabbed one young man. Hunter grabbed another one by himself and then I grabbed another one by myself," said Neil. "We immediately began taking our clothes off and wrapping them around them. That's when they just broke down and began to scream and I don't know if it was just relief or what."
Neil, who found out about the boys' plight after his daughters informed of the boys' situation, credited God for being able to successfully rescue them.
"We thank God we were able to take part in it, and how everything was so synchronized -- and God pulled those things together," Crass said.
The boys, who were all taken to the hospital after being rescued by the Crass' have since been released.
Neil is the pastor at Big Emory Church in Roane County. The church's sign displays Philippians 4:13, which reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."