They were on thin ice. Two boys, ages 9 and 12, had to be rescued on Christmas Day after the ice they were walking on gave way, plunging them into the waters of Strack Memorial Pond in Woodhaven’s Forest Park around 3 p.m., according to the FDNY.
A quick-thinking third boy grabbed a Parks Department rescue ladder and used it to help the boys out of the chilly pond before the FDNY and NYPD arrived on scene.
The ladder was positioned near the pond after a Glendale boy, 11-year-old Anthony Perez, drowned while rescuing another boy, 12-year-old Juan Umpierrez, who had fallen through the ice at Strack Memorial Pond in February 2018. Perez had rushed in to pull his friend to safety, but he couldn’t get himself back out of the water and became trapped under the ice for up to half and hour while his Umpierrez ran to find help.
When first responders arrived on the scene, firefighters had to break through the ice with their hands and then went into the water to pull Perez out. Rescuers performed CPR to try and revive the boy, but they were unable to save him.
He was taken to Jamaica Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The two boys who fell through the ice on Christmas Day led away from Strack Memorial Pond by firefighters who tried to warm them with white towels and FDNY turnout coats. They were transported to Jamaica Hospital where they were treated for exposure and non-life-threatening injuries, according to an NYPD spokesman. They are expected to make full recoveries, authorities said.
Meanwhile, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver is warning park-goers in all five boroughs that it is never safe to venture onto the ice on the city’s 96 ponds.
“No matter how fun the ice may look, anyone walking on the ice is taking a big risk with their life,” Silver said. “And, if an ice emergency occurs, call 911 first, do not attempt a rescue, leave it to the professionals.
To warn visitors of the dangers of thin ice, NYC Parks posts warning signs around waterbody perimeters in all five boroughs. Additionally, special red ladders are installed around the edges in the event of an emergency.
The same type of ladder that proved effective in Forest Park on Christmas Day.