Family member dies trying to save child who fell in frozen pond, Illinois officials say

·2 min read
Screengrab from Facebook post by Amanda Beals.

Two people fell into a frozen pond in Illinois, after one wandered onto the ice in an attempt to rescue a trio of dogs, according to Illinois officials.

One victim was a child and the other was an adult, the Daily Eastern News reported. Rescuers were able to save the child but the adult died.

First responders responded to a call for help shortly before 8 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15, according to a release from the Lincoln Fire Protection District. Firefighters arrived at the scene — near the town of Charleston — within 10 minutes of the call, jumped into the pond in cold weather diving gear and “began an aggressive search” for the two victims.

By 8:06 a.m., one victim was pulled from the water, and the second at 8:15 a.m., the release said. Crews also saved three dogs from the pond.

Witnesses at the scene told rescuers that the child “entered the ice-covered pond to rescue stranded dogs,” the release said. A “family member” rushed over to help and fell through the ice as well, and later died, according to the Daily Eastern News.

The child was 10-year-old Ma’Liyah White and her ”abuelo” (grandfather) Carlos Serafin, gave his life to save her, family member Amanda Beals told WCIA.

“[The divers] did get Ma’Liyah’s heart going again but unfortunately Carlos didn’t make it,” Beals wrote in a Facebook post. “He died a hero.”

Beals is asking for prayers and support, especially for Ma’Liyah, whose life still hangs in the balance, she wrote in a Gofundme page set up for the family.

“As of right now Ma’Lyiah is not showing any brain activity only seizures. Her heart and lungs are working but we are praying for a miracle,” she said.

Charleston, Illinois is halfway between Indianapolis and St. Louis.

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