Queens, NY – An 11-year-old boy died in the icy waters of a Forest Park pond on Tuesday afternoon, after he heroically rescued a friend who had fallen through the ice.
Anthony Perez was playing at Strack Pond with an unnamed 12-year-old friend, who ventured too far onto the iced-over pond, the New York Daily News reported.
Shortly before 4 p.m., Perez’s friend suddenly plunged through the ice, and into the frigid water below.
Perez, who had been standing on the bank, rushed to the aid of the older boy, and was able to push him to safety. But after rescuing his friend, Perez was unable to save himself.
His friend ran for help, but Perez was submerged for approximately a half hour, first responders told the New York Daily News.
Emergency personnel received a 911 call about the incident at 4:05 p.m., and arrived at the scene just four minutes later, Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Deputy Chief George Healy said.
Three police officers and three firefighters ran out onto the pond as the ice cracked beneath them, Chief Healy explained.
“They were in about chest-deep water, wading through the water,” he said. “They had to physically, with their hands, break through the ice, and chop the ice, so they could get to the area they knew that the child would most likely be in.”
Arial footage of the rescue showed emergency personnel as they pulled two firefighters and the boy to safety. Perez was rushed to a local hospital, but died approximately two hour later.
His friend was uninjured.
Chief Healy begged citizens to heed warnings, and to assume that the ice is not safe.
“There are signs around all the lakes in the city and we implore you, tell your children — the ice is not safe, it’s not going to support your weight, and it can have tragic consequences,” he said, according to Time.
Perez’s friends, family, and neighbors described him as an uncommonly kind child, who was always quick to offer his help to others.
“I’m not surprised he risked his life,” Perez’s 14-year-old friend, Noah, told the New York Daily News. “They were really close. They used to hang out with each other almost every day.”
Perez’s neighbor, 65-year-old Angela Vargas, described him as “a sweet boy,” who offered to help her hang Christmas lights two years in a row.
“He gave his life for his friend,” Vargas said. “No kids do that ... God made him, and he made an angel.”