Two children rescued from icy pond in Gaithersburg, third dies from cold
(WJLA) - Three Gaithersburg boys, all between ten and 12 years old, were yanked from a bitter cold retention pond Monday afternoon. On Monday evening, it was confirmed that the 10-year-old in critical condition has died.
Around 4:15 p.m., an eyewitness called 911 to report seeing the trio plunge through a thin sheet of ice along the edge of the pond, near the corner of Diamondback Drive and Reprise Drive in Gaithersburg's Crown Farm neighborhood.
Firefighters managed to rescue two of the boys within five minutes. However, it took more than half-an-hour to locate the third child. According to eyewitnesses, firefighters pulled him from the pond unconscious and not breathing.
"They came here and grabbed the rafts, they got the ropes, they had their helmets on quickly. When I saw those first two boys come out, they just wrapped them up and put them in a heated ambulance. All they were trying to do is make sure they were okay," described Sergio Reyes, whose son is friends with the three boys rescued.
Residents say the three boys are well-known in the nearby Decoverly 2 neighborhood.
"One of my friend's fathers told me that he was drowning, one of my friends. And I was really worried and sad. I was crying because that's my best friend," said Alex Bermudez, a good friend of the third child.
Bermudez says one of the boys who survived -- a classmate at Forest Oak Middle -- had actually told him he planned to do this:
"When we were at the bus, he told me, 'I'm going to go ice skating there.'"
He says the boys had done this before, and doesn't think they actually had skates on.
"They did it before, they really did. They did it before, but since nothing happened to them, I thought it wasn't going to be a problem," he said.
But Montgomery County Fire says ice in the area is never to be trusted.
Natalia Churchman and her brother David watched the rescue from atop a nearby parking garage.
"I saw a stretcher come out, followed by -- like three minutes later -- another stretcher," said David. "I didn't see the third one, to be honest with you."
Due to the water's murkiness, Montgomery County's Technical Rescue Team used underwater thermal image devices during its search, but ultimately located the third boy on the pond's floor by hand. A Maryland State Police helicopter was also called to scan the water from above with its state-of-the-art infrared system.
"I just didn't know what to think because I used to play with him. He's so sweet and funny. I'd never think something like this would happen to him," high-schooler Jasmine Bermudez remarked with tears streaming down her face.
The two boys rescued first were transported to a local hospital with signs of hypothermia, but expected to be okay.
"Let this be a lesson that there is no ice in our region that will sustain human weight," Montgomery County Fire Department Assistant Chief Scott Graham remarked on a January afternoon where temperatures nearly hit 60 degrees.
Fire officials say the pond, which collects storm water and sediment run-off, measures ten feet deep in certain areas.