2 Bronx men hospitalized after fall through ice into frigid Central Park pond
Two young men plunged through the ice on a Central Park pond Tuesday, setting off a dicey rescue mission that caused a firefighter and police officer to also fall into frigid waters while trying to rescue the men, officials said.
Shortly after 2 p.m. the unidentified duo, ages 19 and 20 and both from the Bronx, were in the center of the pond near Sixth Avenue and 59th Street when the ice broke.
One man pulled himself out of the water and onto the ice, while another was reportedly in the water for nearly 10 minutes. As a firefighter and cop tried to pull the men to solid ground, they too fell through the ice and had to be rescued, according to the FDNY.
"He had this look of panic in his eyes," witness Rafeal Perez told DNAInfo.com about one of the men.
"I just kept telling him, 'Stay calm, help is on the way,'" said Perez, who works for the Central Park Conservancy.
A police officer extending a ladder to them broke through the ice and fell into the water, as did a firefighter attempting to reach them. Another firefighter in a wet suit brought them all back to solid land, the FDNY said.
The cop and firefighter were treated for exposure and were hospitalized in stable condition.
The two men who initially fell in were also taken to the hospital and were treated for hypothermia.
It's unknown why the pair was on the ice, according to FDNY, but they were set to get criminal summonses for unlawful ice activity upon their release from he hospital. Witnesses at the scene, however, said on Twitter that the pair was taking pictures while on the ice about 40 feet out from the designated path.
Although the center of the pond was clearly cracked, tourists continued to venture out onto the ice to take photos.
Geoffrey Croft, who runs the nonprofit New York City Parks Advocates, arrived to the scene and urged tourists to stay on firm ground and not copycat the teens.
"The main message here is stay off the ice," Croft said.
"Those guys were lucky, some tourists don't think it's too far out to walk, but the situation can escalate quickly to a dangerous one," he said.
Before rescuers arrived at the scene, a friend of the pair tried to use one of the red ladders stationed around the park to help get them out of the pond.
Croft called the ladders around the park "flimsy" and said the rope needs to be attached to them to aid future rescues missions.
After the chaos had cleared, rescue ladders remained strewn across the broken ice.