Jason “J.J.” Rivera & Elijah “Papito” Martinez: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jason J.J. Jay Jay Rivera, Elijah Papito Martinez, Children Rescued Snow


In 2013, cousins Jason Rivera and Elija Martinez were playing in a fort they built when a snow plow driver accidentally dumped piles of snow on top of them. The boys, 9 and 11 at the time, tried to scream for help, but were muted by the feet of snow they were buried under. Rivera and Martinez were stuck under at least five feet of snow for at least four hours before police were able to rescue them.

Tonight, In An Instant will focus on these boys’ story of survival, bravery, and gratefulness.

1. The Boys Were Trapped for At Least 4 Hours

Children Rescued From Snowbank In Newburgh Two boys who had been trapped for hours under a huge pile of snow in Newburgh spent Thanksgiving at the hospital. CBS2's Sonia Rincon reports.2014-11-28T17:54:15.000Z

The boys didn’t return home from playing around 10pm, and after an unsuccessful search, their parents called police at 11:50pm the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until 2 am the following morning that Martinez and Rivera were located.

NY boys buried in snow pile heard rescuers callingNEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Two boys trapped in a snow pile for about seven hours after a plow buried them could hear their worried family's cries but couldn't respond loudly enough to be heard, they said Friday. Police credited an air pocket with saving their lives. The two cousins, 11-year-old Elijah Martinez and 9-year-old Jason…2014-12-08T15:27:28.000Z

The video above was taken from a neighbor’s cell phone, and shows footage of police and other members of the community digging for the boys immediately after they were located.

2. Police Estimate They Were Buried in At Least Five Feet of Snow

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Newburgh police Sgt. Aaron Weaver suspects the boys were buried in as much as five feet of snow after a snow plow operator who was busy clearing a parking lot unwittingly dumped a large pile on them. Officer Rola, meanwhile, estimates that the pile of snow was anywhere from 7 to 8 feet.

According to Broadway World, the boys had just enough oxygen to breathe and just enough warmth to remain conscious. They spent Thanksgiving in the hospital, but escaped the ordeal unharmed.

3. Officer Rola Found and Saved the Boys

Jason J.J. Jay Jay Rivera, Elijah Papito Martinez, Children Rescued Snow


Policeman Officer Rola was the man who found the boys’ shovel and immediately started digging. Speaking to CBS Local, Rola said, “I pulled the shovel out, and, not going to say I put two and two together, by no means, but I just felt led to dig.”

Rola then saw Elija’s boot and moved as quickly as possible to rescue them. “When the boot moved it was just straight adrenaline to, ‘We’ve got to get these kids out as fast as possible,’” Rola said.  A neighbor who helped with the digging told USA Today, “All I see was the feet… When I got over there, the little boy’s feet was hanging out of the thing, and he was shaking, and his mother was like, ‘It’s all right.’ He was like, ‘Mommy, mommy.'”

Rola initially identified the boys whereabouts speaking to a young girl who was playing with them earlier that afternoon. He used her tip to approximate their location, and subsequently spend his time searching for any kind of identifier.

4. The Boys Said They Did Everything They Could to Free Themselves

NY boys rescued from snow aided by air pockeNEWBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — New York police believe two boys trapped in a snow pile in the Hudson Valley for several hours after a plow buried them were able to survive thanks to an air pocket in the heavy, wet snow. The two cousins — aged 11 and 9 — were building a snow fort…2014-12-26T22:10:08.000Z

Speaking to the press after the incident, Martinez explained that he did whatever he could to free him and his cousin. “I was punching everything, I was moving my shoulders, banging my head, moving everything so I could get more space,” he said.

Rivera, on the other hand, was packed in tightly with the snow, and had little room for movement. “He had more space than me, I couldn’t really move,” Rivera said. “If I could’ve sat up, I could’ve got my legs out and we could’ve at least made more space, but there was a big block of ice on my chest so I couldn’t move.”

5. The Boys Say They Motivated One Another Not to Fall Asleep

Children Rescued From Snowbank In Newburgh Speak OutTwo boys who had been trapped for hours under a huge pile of snow in Newburgh are speaking out about their ordeal. CBS2's Sonia Rincon reports.2014-11-29T02:32:18.000Z

In their interview with the press, the boys say they helped one another stay awake, and motivated each other to keep fighting to be rescued. “We motivated each other to not go to sleep, keep yelling, keep moving our bodies, trying to break out,” Martinez said. “Cause I knew if we would’ve fallen asleep…we probably wouldn’t have woke up because we would be so cold, frozen probably.”

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