By Paul Steven GhiringhelliJanuary 13, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- North Country citizens can potentially skirt danger outdoors this winter if they steer clear of homes, buildings or other structures prone to icicle formations.
In an incident just before the holidays, 7-year-old Kate-Lynn Hopkins was pinned down in more than a foot of snow by a giant icicle in Fort Drum's Crescent Woods housing area.
Her friend, Kayla Oakley, 10, had accidentally dislodged the tall block of ice (which hung from the corner of a garage roof down to the ground) by playfully kicking it, not intending or foreseeing that it would actually move, or that it could hurt her friend.
"I was in my house writing when my daughter flew in, tripping over herself," recalled Kayla's mom, Jaymie Oakley, wife of Staff Sgt. Bryan Oakley, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. "All I could get from her was, 'Kate-Lynn, icicle!'"
Oakley knew something serious was happening and quickly followed her daughter outside.
Arriving on the scene, she repeatedly yelled Kate-Lynn's name out over the white landscape until she saw the little girl's head pop up from behind a giant slab of ice.
Oakley tried, but could not budge the icicle. She darted across the street to ask a neighbor for help just as a Fort Drum police car drove by.
"Could that be any luckier that an MP drives by at this particular point in time'" Oakley recalled thinking.
Sgt. Joseph Croft, a military policeman from 23rd Military Police Company, said he likes to drive with his windows slightly cracked whenever he's on duty.
"It's good police work," Croft said, "because you can't hear stuff most of the time if you don't (have a window open)."
Croft said he heard screams and saw Oakley in his rearview mirror waving. He jumped out and radioed dispatch as he ran to help.
"The snow cushioned a lot of the impact," said Croft, who managed to lift the icicle long enough for Oakley to pull Kate-Lynn out.
Meanwhile, Marion Hopkins, Kate-Lynn's mom, had just dropped off her oldest son, Ryan, at Dry Hill Ski Area in Watertown, N.Y. Hopkins left her friend, who was visiting Fort Drum from Germany, in charge of both Kate-Lynn and her other son, Steven.
Oakley called Hopkins' cell phone with news of the accident and let her know that Kate-Lynn was heading to Watertown's Samaritan Medical Center as a precaution.
"I flipped out," said Hopkins, who beat the ambulance to the hospital.
She had warned her young adventurous daughter in the past about playing near icicles.
"When (Kate-Lynn) arrived at the hospital, and she saw (me), she started to cry really bad," Hopkins said. "She knew she (had done something) she was not supposed to."
Kate-Lynn reported that her knee hurt after the icicle impacted her, but that she feels no pain now. She also said she was not afraid when she was trapped, even though she screamed a lot.
"My mom told me that if there's something wrong, scream for help," said Kate-Lynn, whose father, Sgt. Keith Hopkins, is deployed to Afghanistan with 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "That's why (Kayla) ran to Mrs. (Oakley's) house and got her mom."
Routine tests and X-rays at the hospital revealed Kate-Lynn was fine.
"There were no broken bones or anything like that - thank God," Hopkins said. "And thank God there was (so much) snow. The MP said if it weren't for all the snow, she probably would've had broken bones, because of the weight of that icicle."