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Video: Firefighters unable to save drowning man

The 20-year-old man was fleeing from police when he ran over a thinly frozen pond and fell in

By EMS1 Staff

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Video shows firefighters and police attempting to rescue a man after he fell into a frozen lake while trying to flee authorities.

Kenneth Brown Jr., 20, died after he was trapped in the freezing waters of a retention pond for more than an hour before rescuers could get him out, according to the News-Gazette.

Brown was running from police after they responded to a domestic dispute call in the area, when he started jogging across a frozen lake and fell in.

22 fire personnel showed up to help rescue Brown, while officers tried to communicate with him.

Firefighters and an officer suited up to help rescue Brown and were being tethered together when other crew members threw a rescue disc, hoping Brown would grab it, but he didn't.

The newspaper reports that crews waited for a rescue raft to be inflated, and as crews went onto the ice to retrieve Brown, he had gone underwater. Crews were told the water was only waist-deep, but it was actually as much as 18-feet deep.

Six different firefighters and one police officer were in the water attempting to rescue Brown. Crews eventually had to dive to get Brown and transport him to the hospital where he later died.

Champaign Deputy Fire Chief Eric Mitchell said rescuers did all they could.

"They followed our ice-rescue guidelines pretty much to a T," Mitchell said. "It's a very low frequency (event) but a very high-risk rescue. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They established command ... they made visual contact and attempted to talk to him, threw rescue devices, and went on the water. Going on the water is the last thing you want to do. They did all the other things first.”

Deputy Police Chief Joe Gallo said bystanders kept urging rescuers to get into the water to save Brown, but he said waiting for firefighters was the best decision.

Chief Mitchell agreed, saying charging into the water was not "safe for anybody. It might look like fiddling, but it's making sure the person is safe to do his job because you don't want to lose a rescuer."

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Rodney Bean Tabor Rodney Bean Tabor Monday, January 07, 2013 6:55:53 PM The news & by standers who complain know nothing about what we do. Safety is the first thing and following guidelines is very important. Sorry for the lost but my fireman friends did all they could. Stay safe out there fireman friends! Asst. Chief Rodney J. (Bean) Tabor - L.C. 308 V.F.D.
Michael Hayward Michael Hayward Monday, January 07, 2013 8:59:46 PM it appears TRUE , they did the best they could and did there Job, I am still in school however I think since there was such a great risk with each detail of the conditions and obstacles faced and the factor of the weather and temp of the water, ironically the temp for a very short period to a submerged accident victim may prevent actually drowning somehow the body shuts something and prevent more water from going into the lings us something with he heart. and a drowning accident in ICE COLD Frozen lake or ocean water has higher chance of survivability than warmer temperature water. It is TRRAGIC though the sent OVER 20 People to the scene who did make several rescue attempt opertions to intervene and save the patient, it is SAD. though over 20 men trying to get one manb out of that lake says WE CARE...WE are HUMAN though WE are Doing all that is reasonably possible.
Sarone A Kennedy Sr Sarone A Kennedy Sr Tuesday, January 08, 2013 5:28:59 AM If the video is correct they arrived in a timely manner an did what they were supposed to do! I serve on the water rescue team here (Abaco, Bahamas) and did see anything wrong. For the police to wait for qualified personnel to arrive was the proper thing to do rather than going onto the ice and risk becoming a victim or victims.
Rez Medic Rez Medic Tuesday, January 08, 2013 10:09:15 AM It took, according to this article, an hour to get him out! :-0 wtf took an hour? Ten minutes is life threatening in ice cold water. They screwed up badly! They did not break thru the ice when they crawled out to him. I call this a major foul.
Amy Bethancourt Amy Bethancourt Tuesday, January 08, 2013 11:34:52 AM Bean you are right you firmen and policemen and amublance drivers put yall life at risk to save other people and dont know what yall have to face when the beepers go off just be proud of what you do and be safe
Michael Hayward Michael Hayward Tuesday, January 08, 2013 2:18:41 PM I myself wondered why they did not attempt entry from the side by the resturaunt in the back ground closer to where the patient had fallen through the ice
Steve Weaver Steve Weaver Saturday, January 12, 2013 2:40:16 AM The bodies reaction in the cold water is the "mammalian dive reflex" The pathophys behind it is seriously interesting. Google it for a better understanding.

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