New Hampshire Responders Rescue 2 Trapped by Ice

March 26, 2008
A Bristol couple escaped from under 2,000 pounds of ice after a massive ice chunk slid off a woodpile.


A Bristol couple escaped from under 2,000 pounds of ice after a massive ice chunk slid off a woodpile while the two were gathering logs for their wood stove.

Paul Sodano said he cheated death on Sunday with the help of rescue workers and a $99 wheelbarrow that helped support him.

"All my weight was resting on that little piece," Soldano said. "My face was implanted in here."

The ice fell on Soldano and Sue Coulombe when Soldano reached under a tarp to grab a last piece of wood. The disruption set loose the 1-ton chunk of ice that had been building up on the woodpile all winter long.

Coulombe was also trapped.

"He kept calling for me," she said. "'Sue, you there? You there?' 'I'm here. I'm here.'"

Coulombe screamed for help until she was hoarse and dug with her bare hands until she stained the snow with blood. After 20 minutes, she was able to free herself. All she could see of Soldano was a hand poking out from under the block of ice.

"I actually thought I was going to die because when she left, I was by myself, and it fell again and crushed my chest," Soldano said. "I couldn't breathe anymore."

The first crew arrived quickly but knew they needed more people.

"It was about 15 feet long, 5 feet wide and 3 feet of snowpack estimated at 2,300 pounds of snow and ice," said Ben LaRoche of the Bristol Fire Department.

In 20 minutes, 13 firefighters and three police officers rigged a structure to support the ice and began digging frantically. Soldano said he remembers hearing the words that convinced him he might survive.

"Some guy put his head through a little hole and said, 'We're going to pull you out right now,'" Soldano said. "I must have passed out right then."

Soldano was treated for hypothermia and torn tendons in his arm, but doctors said they were shocked that he wasn't much worse off.

Copyright 2008 by . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!