Teen's 'adventure' turns into ice rescue

Justin Copan and his father Dan talk with reporters after the teen was rescued from the ice of Lake...

Justin Copan and his father Dan talk with reporters after the teen was rescued from the ice of Lake Simcoe Thursday evening.MIRIAM KING/BRADFORD TIMES/SUNMEDIA

Ian McInroy, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 PM ET

INNISFIL, Ont. — Fire and police departments from two jurisdictions were called into action Thursday evening after an local teenager became disoriented on Lake Simcoe's Cook's Bay.

After being out on the ice for hours, Justin Carriere Copan, 14, was eventually rescued just before 8 p.m. suffering from mild hypothermia and returned to Innisfil Beach Park and his parents.

The teen was discovered relatively unharmed but not before a search that lasted four hours and confounded by heavy snow fall.

"We have 14-year-old on a cellphone out on the ice. He is awaiting rescue because he heard cracking and is afraid to move," South Simcoe police Const. Richard Williamson stated in an e-mail to QMI Agency.

That cellphone, which he just got Wednesday, may have saved the youth's life.

He told QMI Agency he had decided to go "on an adventure" onto the ice and walk to Fox Island, but neglected to tell anyone and then became disoriented on his way back.

Copan was not bundled up for an extended walk on the ice, wearing only a light jacket and no mitts or gloves.

After realizing he was lost, he called 911.

South Simcoe police, York Regional Police, Innisfil Fire and Rescue and the Georgina Fire Department were alerted around 5:40 p.m.

The fire departments' ice rescue boats were dispatched as were York Regional Police snowmobiles. At one point, CFB Trenton was contacted and a Hercules search and rescue aircraft with infra-red search capabilities was dispatched but it was cancelled.

"If he hadn't had a cellphone, which was given to him (Wednesday), (it wouldn't have come) together," said his father, Gerald Copan.

"We didn't know he had a cellphone," he said, adding it may have been given to his son by a friend.

"I'm extremely relieved: very, very relieved," he said, adding he appreciated the efforts to firefighters and police who joined the search for his son and brought him back safe and sound.

"My thanks and my gratitude to all."

The teen was checked out by paramedics at Innisfil Beach Park, where he was brought back to shore. They determined he was suffering from "mild hypothermia" despite his ordeal and gave his parents some advice.

"Take him home and give him hot chocolate," Gerald said.

Asked if he would ever go out on the ice like that again, Justin said "No", adding that if he did decide to head out, he would be prepared. "I'd take a compass (and) my parents."

York Regional Police Insp. Lou Malbeuf said the youth had been on the ice for quite awhile, and told police he could see their flares.

Williamson said the teen told rescuers he wasn't moving.

"He called in to 911 when he heard cracking. He is on 12 inches of ice and staying put," he said. "He is not in danger. The fire department airboat is heading out to find him. He is trying to direct the boats to him but heavy snow is hampering visibility."

At 7:50 p.m., Williamson e-mailed QMI Agency with the good news.

"Located by Georgina Fire Department. He will be fine."

Malbeuf said the teen was found somewhere between Fox and Snake islands and the mainland.

-- with files from Miriam King, QMI Agency

ian.mcinroy@sunmedia.ca


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