Local students learn tough lesson about spring at the Mill Pond

Brothers Ethan, left, and Evan Heiling.

A Ripon Middle School student has a message for kids this spring.

“Don’t go out on the ice.”

He knows the dangers of doing so, maybe better than most, after he and others were involved in shenanigans that led first to a 10-year-old girl falling through, and then the boy himself plunging into the icy Mill Pond.

The particulars of how it all happened remain a little unclear; kids were the only witnesses to what happened, and accounts seem to differ and fluctuate.

Evan Heiling admits to encouraging the girl to head out on the thinning ice on the 50-plus-degree day. He also is known to have saved her life after she fell in. That last fact is certain.

Another is equally crystal clear.

Those involved now know, and want others to know, not to play on melting ice.

“It was scary,” 12-year-old Evan said afterward. “Probably shouldn’t go out on the ice again; [it’s] probably not a good idea.”

“I was really scared,” admits Ethan, his 8-year-old brother who saw it all happen.

He thought his brother was going to die.

And he could have.

It all happened on one of those rare, beautiful late-winter days Ripon enjoyed last week.

The sun was shining, and temperatures soared into the mid-50s.

It was the kind of day that draw kids down to the waterfront to play.

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