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2 rescued after falling through thin ice

CHAUTAUQUA -- Three snowmobiles rest at the bottom of Chautauqua Lake, and four area residents are lucky to be alive today after a dramatic rescue Saturday afternoon by emergency crews in Chautauqua County, according to the county sheriff's department.

Deputies said Kenneth J. Benner Sr., 71, of Buffalo; his son, Kenneth J. Benner Jr., 44; and two grandsons, Kenneth J. Benner III, 13, and Joshua T. Benner, 12, all of Middleport, left the Redwood Ranch in Bemus Point on snowmobiles at about 3:30 p.m. to go ice fishing on Chautauqua Lake when two of the group encountered thin ice and fell into the water.

The Benners traveled about a quarter-mile out onto the lake when they encountered the weak ice. Kenneth Jr. fell through first and was followed by Kenneth III. Kenneth Sr. and Joshua were able to stop before they went through.

The victims were in the water and on the ice for about 30 minutes when Kenneth III got out of the water and took the snowmobile his brother was riding back to the ranch to call for help, deputies said.

The Chautauqua County Water Emergency Team and Bemus Point Fire Department responded and rescued the three. Police said none was injured seriously. All were treated at the scene for hypothermia.

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