An 11-year-old New York boy died on Tuesday after saving a friend who fell through the ice of a freezing pond, police said.
The child, Anthony Perez, fell into icy Strack Pond at Forest Park in Queens, New York, on Tuesday afternoon, according to fire officials, after he rescued a friend, 12, who had fallen through the ice earlier.
Perez went out about 50 feet on the pond before the ice let go underneath him, according to the New York Fire Department.
Firefighters said they plunged into the pond’s frigid waters within minutes of arriving on the scene after several witnesses stated that the child had fallen through the ice.
"Members had to physically, with their hands, break through the ice and chop the ice so they could get to the area that they knew the child would most likely be in,” FDNY Deputy Chief George Healy said in a statement. “They had to go underneath to get the child.”
The boy was transported to a local hospital where he later died, according New York ABC station WABC. Two firefighters were also taken to the hospital for hypothermia treatment.
The 12-year-old, who helped to alert authorities that Anthony has fallen through the ice, was not injured. He told police that Anthony saved him when the ice started to crack and he plunged through.
"He was just a good kid, I would expect nothing else," Lenny Coraci, 41, told ABC News of Anthony, who lived two doors away from him. "He always smiled. He was a respectful kid."
Coraci, a nurse practitioner, said most days he takes a stroll around the pond about the same time the tragedy occurred, but on Tuesday he said he arrived home shortly after firefighters pulled Anthony from the icy pond.
"I feel some guilt because had I been there like I usually am, I might have been able to help," Coraci said. "As soon as I pulled into my driveway, someone came up and said someone had drowned in the park. By the time I rushed up there, they were putting Anthony into the ambulance."
Healy urged parents to keep kids off the ice.
“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,” Healy said. “Again, the ice looks to be safe, it looks to be thick, but the temperature today was well above freezing.
“We implore parents -- make sure your kids know the ice in the city of New York, on these lakes and ponds, is not safe,” he added.