3 dead after ice gives way on frozen lake

Kishore Pittala says the children's parents were taking a picture when the ice broke and they fell through.
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 5:53 AM MST
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CHANDLER, Ariz. (3TV/CBS 5/Gray News) - Three people from Chandler are dead after walking on a frozen lake outside of Payson.

A family friend said the three were taking a picture when the ice gave way and they fell through.

The victims include a wife and husband, who left behind two children, Arizona’s Family reported.

“We were really shocked and shaken. I wasn’t able to speak for a moment,” said Kishore Pittala.

On Monday, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Woods Canyon Lake, about 30 miles east of Payson.

Gokul Mediseti, 47, Narayana Muddana, 49, and his wife Haritha Muddana were soon identified as the three who had fallen through the ice.

First responders were able to pull Haritha Muddana from the water but weren’t able to save her. Rescue crews later found the bodies of the two men on Tuesday.

“It is a tough situation, so first thing is we are in shock and we are really worried about the kids,” said Pittala, who lives next door to the Muddana’s home in Chandler.

He is taking care of the 7- and 11-year-old daughters. He says he’s working to get them back to their grandparents in India.

Pittala said he wants people to remember Narayana and Haritha Muddana as welcoming people and caring parents.

“They were a really good family,” he said. “This is a big loss to them.”

Loved ones of the three created a GoFundMe page to help with expenses. If you would like to donate, click here.