VERNON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Three teens are recovering after plunging through the ice on Vernon Valley Lake.

The boys – 16, 16 and 14 – were ice fishing when they fell through the ice Monday at around 1 p.m., according to Vernon Police.

The trio managed to pull themselves from the water prior to emergency responders arriving on scene, using a small rowboat to help pull themselves out.

“One boy was up to his chest in the water,” neighbor Brian Jernick told CBS2’s Meg Baker. “The other two boys were in the boat, but they were drenched, because they had already been in the water. What they did was they took their tops off, because it was soaking wet and freezing cold. So what they were trying to do was, with the ax they used to cut a hole in the ice, they were pulling the boat to try to get to their friend.”

The three were all able to get into the boat and make it to shore.

“And then we got them inside, and they were freezing cold. And fortunately, everyone was OK,” Jernick said.

“They were strong enough and fortunate enough that they were able to get themselves out which is huge because even in a town like this where we have great first responders, every second matters when you’re in those ice cold waters,” Chief Randy Mills of the Vernon Police told Baker.

“Even ice that appears safe can be dangerous in spots. Recent weather conditions has made ice unstable in many places,” the Vernon Police said in a Facebook post.