In an incredible act of heroism and sacrifice, Joe and Chris Novecosky rushed to the aid of family members who had fallen through the ice on Humboldt Lake last November.  

Joe and Chris perished in their efforts to rescue seven-year-old Ava Novecosky and six-year-old Evelyn Novecosky who had been playing on the frail ice. For their heroism, the pair has posthumously been awarded the Carnegie Medal for Heroism. 

A statement from the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission details the event. The children were about 300 feet from shore when they fell into the frigid water of the lake. Their brother on shore alerted adult family members, including the girls’ uncle Christopher Novecosky, 38, and cousin Joseph Novecosky, 28, both Saskatoon tradesmen. Christopher and Joseph ran out of the house onto the ice along with the girls’ mother, who said she could hear the ice cracking under their feet. 

The three adults approached the girls as the ice gave way and both men plunged into the icy water. Both men attempted to push an unconscious Ava onto the ice but were unsuccessful. The mother then fell through the ice. 

Christopher’s efforts to extract Evelyn were unsuccessful, both exhausted from the struggle and the cold water. Joseph handed Ava to her mother and then submerged.  

Evelyn was able to retrieve a life jacket from a kayak pushed from shore. Evelyn and her mother, both suffering from hypothermia survived the ordeal, stated the release. Ava could not be resuscitated by responders when they arrived.  

Dive teams recovered the bodies of Joseph and Christopher the next day.  

In a media statement, the family said that Chris and Joe were the people who would make this kind of sacrifice and that their heroism came as no surprise.  

The Carnegie Medal is given throughout the U.S. and Canada to those who enter extreme danger while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.