FDNY Plea: Teach Children To Prevent Frozen Tragedy

Western Queens Gazette - February 14, 2018

by Liz Goff

FDNY officials are urging parents to warn youngsters about the dangers of playing on frozen lakes, ponds and other bodies of water. “We are pleading with parents, and adults in general, to educate children, tell them that it is never safe to play on ice,” an FDNY spokesperson said. “Kids need to understand the difference between walking and skating on supervised, maintained ice skating rinks and open lakes and areas with a thin coating of ice,” the spokesperson said.

A thin layer of ice won’t support a child’s weight, and water beneath the ice is frigid – probably unlike anything an average child, or adult, has ever experienced, fire officials said.

First responders and trained rescuers often fall through the ice themselves while trying to save people, and their pets, FDNY officials said. “It’s very important to remember that frozen surfaces are especially dangerous when temperatures rise above freezing 32-degrees F, officials said. “A thin layer of water over very instable ice is a recipe for disaster.” The warning comes after an 11-year-old Middle Village boy died after jumping into a frozen pond in Forest Park on February 6 to save his 12-year-old pal.

Police said Anthony Perez, 11, and Juan Umpierrez, 12, were playing on Forest Park at about 4 p.m. on February 6 when Umpierrez walked onto the frozen Strack Pond and fell into the frigid water when the ice cracked beneath his weight.

Anthony was standing on dry land, watching as his friend walked out onto the ice,” a police source said. “He only went out on the ice after his friend fell through. Anthony was able to pull Juan to safety, but then he fell through the ice and couldn’t get out,” the source said.

FDNY and NYPD rescuers waded through chest-high, frigid water to locate Anthony, but he wasn’t breathing when he was pulled from the water, a fire spokesperson said. FDNY medics performed CPR on Anthony as he was transported to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, but their efforts were in vain. Anthony was pronounced dead on arrival.

Two firefighters were also taken to a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia, a fire spokesperson said.

Police said Juan ignored a sign that reads, “Danger – This Ice,” and didn’t get too far before the ice cracked beneath his feet. “Teach your children. Teach them well,” a fire spokesperson said. “Kids are kids, they’re always tempted to test authority. Teach them about the dangers of walking on frozen surfaces, and how important it is to obey warning signs that are posted for the food of the public - to help save lives.”