It took local and state police, firefighters, helicopters, and dogs, but three 14-year-old Norwell boys were eventually rescued from a frigid swamp in Wompatuck State Park Tuesday night.
According to Norwell Police Chief Ted Ross, the search began after one of the boys’ parents reported them missing around 7 p.m. Ross said the boys left around 5 p.m. for a walk in the wooded swamp area behind one of boys’ homes on School Street. He noted that none of the boys brought a cell phone.
Norwell police called in canine units from Scituate and Hingham to conduct an investigation of nearby homes.
While calling out into in the woods, one of the parents heard a response from a distance, prompting the police to surround the area with cruisers and lights.
The State Police Air Wing, the state public safety aviation unit, located the boys using helicopters and infrared equipment, at which point “the search became a rescue,” Ross said. “A challenging aspect was that the boys were at least 150 yards into wooded swamp area that was chest-high with water, and thick brush made using a boat impossible.”
He said the rescue team had to wear survivor suits, which are bulky and made maneuvering even more difficult.
Helicopter lights guided a rescue team including Mercy Medical Center personnel to where boys were. They were brought out of the swamp near the Mount Blue Street-School Street intersection at about 11:30 p.m., more than six hours after leaving for their walk.
Each was put in ambulance and sent to South Shore Hospital, where they were treated for exposure, hypothermia, and frostbite.
Ross noted that when going into the woods, the time of day is significant to have bearing. He advised “using sound judgment on when you go out, making sure people know where you’re going, bringing cell phones, being familiar with your surroundings, and going out when it’s lighter.”
Ross said there will be no repercussions for the boys or their families, and that this is considered a “closed case.”
“We are thrilled that the boys are OK,” Ross said. “The coordinated effort among agencies was critical in having this outcome.”