ABC News reported Saturday the harrowing episode occurred during a sledding outing in Wrightwood, Calif. First one man broke through the ice and then one after another, several more plunged into the water during the next 5 minutes.
"When the people started going through the ice, it was just total panic," witness Mickey Herman told ABC. "You saw people taking their belts off. It was just total chaos and out of control. We saw that poor guy, the first one to go in, it was obvious he didn't know how to swim.We thought that might be it. We wouldn't see him again. Fortunately he came back up."
With the help of ropes and inner tubes, everyone was pulled to safety within several minutes.
Meanwhile, in Iowa Friday an 11-year-old boy was rescued from Clear Lake by his 10-year-old buddy, KIMT-TV and KAAL-TV Mason City, reported.
"I thought I was about to drown and at least I didn't, and I tried to keep my hands on the ice, so I didn't drown," Ashton Eckenrod told KIMT-TV.
"It was the coldest thing I've ever felt in my life."
His friend, identified only as Tanner, saved him.
"He didn't say anything, he was just freaking out, he didn't know what to do so he just grabbed my hand and pulled me out," Ashton said.
KAAL-TV reported Clear Lake Police Chief Greg Peterson said the boys were "very fortunate."
"The 11-year-old boy fell through the ice and fortunately for him, his level-headed companion got on his belly and reached out and grabbed his hands and helped pull him out," Peterson said.