Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - The Rochester Fire Dept. will hold its traditional and somber Christmas Eve ceremony Tuesday in memory of a city tragedy that occurred in 1953.

It was on Christmas Eve that year when firefighters Ambrose Riley and Stanley O’Brien lost their lives trying to save a young boy who broke through the ice of Silver Lake.

Riley and O’Brien spotted the young boy struggling in the icy water and began rescue efforts using a ladder and pike pole. They reached the boy and were able to briefly slide him onto a floating piece of wood, but the child soon slipped beneath the surface. Both firefighters dove to find the boy, but all three disappeared. Their bodies were recovered a short while later but efforts to revive them failed. The boy was identified as 9-year-old John Stephenson.

RFD will hold the ceremony at 9:15 the Silver Lake Firefighters Memorial, which is near where the three drowned. The names of Riley and O’Brien have been stenciled onto the cabs of RFD’s two newest fire engines and they will be at the ceremony.

The public is invited to the ceremony.

Ambrose Riley
Stanley O'Brien


John Stephenson