US cold wave: Bid for pics on frozen lake leaves Indian-American trio dead

Couple, man drown after falling through ice; narrow escape for kids, woman who tried to save them

India-Americans dead Woods Canyon Lake Arizona
Woods Canyon Lake, located east of Payson in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, is popular among hikers, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts (pic courtesy: Twitter/Zach Crenshaw)

A quest for pictures on a frozen lake ended in tragedy for a group of Indian-Americans when three of them, including a couple, fell through the ice and drowned in the US state of Arizona on Monday.

The incident occurred at 3.35 pm on Monday at Woods Canyon Lake in Arizona’s Coconino County. The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) identified the victims as Narayana Muddana (49), his wife Haritha Muddana (age unknown), and Gokul Mediseti, 47.

They all lived in Chandler, Arizona, and were originally from India. Chandler is a suburb of Phoenix.

Narrow escape for three


A day after Christmas, three families — comprising six adults and five children — drove up from the Valley to enjoy the snowy outdoors. “(They) wanted to get some pictures out on the ice,” said Jon Paxton of the CCSO.

Also read: US cold wave: Death toll touches 34 as freezing monster storm rages

However, three of them fell through the ice, into the minus 30-degree water. “Hypothermia sets in very quickly at that point,” said Paxton. “And if you’re not a swimmer, it’s that much more difficult.”

Two of the children and a woman tried to rescue their loved ones. But they fell into the water themselves and barely made it to the shore, ABC15 reported, quoting fire-fighters.

Officials said they could pull Haritha out of the water soon after and tried to revive her but she died at the scene, the report said. Crews then began searching for Narayana and Mediseti. Their bodies were found on Tuesday afternoon, the CCSO said.

Kids lose both parents

Narayana and Haritha have left behind two daughters aged seven and 12. A neighbour and close friend, Kishore Pittala, is looking after the children until their grandparents can fly over from India. “I was shocked and shaken. I [wasn’t] able to speak,” Fox10 quoted Pittala as saying.

Also read: US cold wave: What’s causing Buffalo’s worst-ever blizzard?

Woods Canyon Lake is located east of Payson in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. It is an area popular among hikers, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

More than one million Americans and Canadians are facing the brunt of a massive winter storm across North America. This phenomenon, called a “bomb cyclone,” has brought snow, strong winds, and freezing temperatures. Nearly 250 million have been affected, and at least 19 deaths have been linked to the storm extending more than 3,200 km from Quebec to Texas.

(With agency inputs)