Man dies after falling through ice in retention pond while running from police

Man dies after falling through ice in retention pond while running from police

UPDATED 6:05 p.m.

CHAMPAIGN — An autopsy is scheduled Thursday for a Champaign man who died after being in the frigid waters of a retention pond more than an hour Tuesday before rescuers could safely get him out.

The Champaign County coroner’s office said Kenneth Brown Jr., 20, who listed an address in the 2000 block of Moreland Boulevard, Champaign, was pronounced dead at 1:08 a.m. Wednesday at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

He had been taken there shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday after being rescued from a pond on the north side of Town Center Boulevard in front of Menard’s — the third time on Tuesday that police had been called about him.

The Illinois State Water Survey reported the 4 p.m. air temperature Tuesday was around 20 degrees.

Champaign police Lt. Bob Rea said officers were called to McAlister’s Deli, 421 W. Town Center Blvd., just before 4 p.m. to remove a disorderly person. He was gone when police arrived.

Deputy Chief Joe Gallo said the earlier call came at 12:34 p.m. when Mr. Brown was apparently inside the business, where his girlfriend works, being “loud and disruptive.” He was gone when police arrived then too.

And about a half-hour before that, an officer stood by while Market Place Mall officials issued a ban notice to Mr. Brown after he was displaying “erratic behavior” in the center of the mall.

“He wasn’t a threat to anyone. We had no crime. He wasn’t arrested,” said Gallo of the 11:56 a.m. call to Market Place.

After leaving McAlister’s just before 4 p.m., Mr. Brown headed across Town Center Boulevard to the north.

Gallo said there were several officers in the area because of an unrelated domestic dispute call in the parking lot of Menards.

As Officers Tim Atteberry and Doug Kimme got out to walk toward Mr. Brown, he began jogging in the Menards parking lot then ran directly on to the frozen pond south of the store. The sergeant responding to the domestic dispute “sees Brown on the pond and can see it’s partially frozen and can hear it cracking so he’s calling for the Champaign Fire Department before he even falls in. Within seconds, he fell in,” Gallo said.

Champaign Deputy Fire Chief Eric Mitchell said his department got the call seconds before 3:53 p.m. that there was a man in the water.
The first firefighters arrived at 3:58 p.m. A total of 22 fire personnel and six vehicles turned out, he said.

“The way we’re trained, you have several different positions that have to be filled to do water rescue safely,” said Mitchell. “You have a leader and a victim observer (whose) job is to make contact visually with the victim and try to talk to him.”

Gallo said before firefighters arrived, the officers were talking to him, trying to get him to get his body on the ice. An officer went in Menards to get rope and by the time he emerged, firefighters were there.

Mitchell said Mr. Brown was still conscious.

“They could hear him yelling but couldn’t understand much what he was saying,” he said.

In addition to the team leader and the victim observer, there are others who provide shore support.

“They help the rescuers into dry suits. Everybody is tethered to a rope on the shore,” Mitchell said, adding there is at least one shore support person for each person in the water.

And for every two rescuers sent out, there are two more suited up standing by in case something happens to the first one out, Mitchell explained.

Because Mr. Brown had gone on to the ice as he was avoiding contact with police, Atteberry also donned a dry suit.

“We had a police officer also suit up and go out there with our officers. The police wanted to be there. They were there on the call. We gave him a crash course and got him out on the ice,” Mitchell explained, adding that the first firefighter was in a dry suit at 3:59 p.m.  

As the firefighters were suiting up and getting tethered, other team members threw out a rescue disc — “a frisbee with a rope on it” — in hopes that Mr. Brown would grab on. He did not. As that was being tried, the rescue raft was being inflated, something that can’t be done too fast or the raft will pop like a balloon.

As the firefighters were sliding the raft out to where Mr. Brown was, he went under the water at 4:11 p.m., Mitchell said.

“As our guys got out there, they took poles and were trying to feel for him. The water was a lot deeper than they’d been told. Originally, they were told it was waist deep and that he had been standing up. It was over 15 to 18 feet deep,” said Mitchell.

“When he went under, that’s when they dispatched Cornbelt (Fire Protection District) which is the county dive team. Their chief was there at 4:21 p.m.,” Mitchell said.

Lloyd Galey is a retired Champaign fire lieutenant who’s now the chief for Cornbelt. Mitchell said Galey, who carries his equipment in his personal vehicle, used to conduct ice rescue training sessions for Champaign firefighters.

“They ended up having to dive. (Mr. Brown) was out of the water and in the ambulance at 5:09 p.m.,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said one police officer and six different firefighters were in the water before the mission was complete.

Mitchell said after reviewing the reports and seeing a You Tube video of about 10 minutes of the rescue that was posted Wednesday, he feels like his colleagues did what they were supposed to do.

“They followed our ice rescue guidelines pretty much to a T. 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,” Mitchell said.

Gallo said the police officers were frustrated standing out there without the proper equipment to perform a rescue.

Both Gallo and Mitchell said the officers and firefighters could hear bystanders urging them to rush in to the water to get Mr. Brown.

“There’s certain things we can control and certain things beyond our control,” said Gallo. “We commonly run toward the sound of gunfire.

But when there is thin ice and we’re not able to do things safely, we call firefighters. I’m very proud of our officers. I think they performed well under challenging circumstances,” he said.

Mitchell echoed that charging into the water was not the correct response.

“That’s not safe for anybody. One of the reasons we have procedures is because something has happened somewhere, sometime that you have learned from, and that’s why we have the procedures we do have,” Mitchell said.

“It might look like fiddling,” Mitchell said of the preparations, “but it’s making sure the person is safe to do his job because you don’t want to lose a rescuer.”

Mitchell said the dry suits used by the rescuers are designed to keep their bodies dry but there are openings, such as around the neck, where water can seep in.

Mitchell said from his training, he can say that once out of the water, the person in the suit feels okay for about 15 minutes before the cold starts to set in. Arrow Ambulance had a “rehabilitation unit” for the firefighters to warm in Tuesday night.

The last firefighters left the pond at 5:44 p.m.

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Joe American wrote on January 03, 2013 at 1:01 pm

"The same ropes they could have used for over thirty minutes before he went under"


Oh, really now?  In case you forgot, I'll do the math for you. (see Ronaldos post below)

Man goes in water @ 3:53 p.m.

Fire Department arrives on scene @ 3:58 p.m.

"The sergeant responding to the domestic dispute “sees Brown on the pond and can see it’s partially frozen and can hear it cracking so he’s calling for the Champaign Fire Department before he even falls in. Within seconds, he fell in,” Gallo said.

Champaign Deputy Fire Chief Eric Mitchell said his department got the call seconds before 3:53 p.m. that there was a man in the water.
The first firefighters arrived at 3:58 p.m."

Man goes UNDER water @ 4:11 p.m.

"As the firefighters were sliding the raft out to where Mr. Brown was, he went under the water at 4:11 p.m."

Total time in water: 18 minutes

Total time in water while rescue personnel were present: 13 minutes


You're welcome for that.

ronaldo wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Man goes in water @ 3:53 p..m.

Man goes UNDER water @ 4:11 p.m.

Total time:  18 minutes

That's a far cry from what you all were claiming earlier.  You're testimony would be chewed up in court.

perryupopcorn wrote on January 03, 2013 at 7:01 am

he went under at 4:22.. cell phone times are updated about every 15 minutes and that's what mine said

pattsi wrote on January 02, 2013 at 4:01 pm

 The purpose of this post is to clarify some posted information about stormwater and retension ponds with the long-term goal that lessons can be learned from what happened yesterday. For years as an urban planner, I have argued that the city ordinance pertaining to the placement of retension ponds does not have safety setbacks included. I am surprised that it has taken this long for a tragedy to be associated with the ponds. My mental scenario has always been a car skidding on an icy road and landing in a pond unside down late at night, especially the pond on the south side of Windsor Road to the west of Prospect. Historically, this has happened when a UIUC psychology professor was looking for a rural residence, late at night, fog, wintry, and had an accident where the car landed unside down in a pond next to the road, and the car submerged car was not found for days and this was a tragedy. The point being that the path of least resistance to handle stormwater, aka ponds, needs serious correction related to set backs and siting.

This stated there are many other means of handling stormwater other than the use of retention ponds, such as permeable pavements, green roofs, rain barrels, rain gardens, bio swals, etc. Unfortunately none of these are included in a city ordinance as a requirement, aka mandated. As the city of Champaign has worked through the process of establishing a stormwater fee, I have argued that as part of this new structure building in effective incentives to use "green solutions" for stormwater management would be useful for the whole community. I have further argued that the city ought to consider an ordinance that essentially would state--when permeable surface  is covered with impremeable surface, the runoff from the site ought not be more than originally. The city of Philadelphia is a great model for such an ordinance, as are many other communities throughout the USA, along with the fact that the city has established a comprehensive stormwater management plan using green solutions. This is to underline that there are many other alternatives to retention ponds.

One postered corrected the fact that stormwater is not treated unless it surges and mixes with the dirty water that is treated. The pond that will be build along Washington St., in the west Washington watershed, is to help the flooding there. The water from west Washington goes into the Cooper Slough.

Are you kidding wrote on January 02, 2013 at 6:01 pm

From the look of all these postings there was an ample amount of eyewitnesses to this tragic event. Unfortunately, in the end, regardless of the amount of picture and video taking, we will all be irritated beyond belief when the outcome points no fingers or lack of responsibility on any enitities part. Again we will hear how all the first responders preformed as they were trained to do and no one but the victim will be at fault. Has anyone posted their videos on youtube yet?

Are you kidding wrote on January 02, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Unfortunately, someone did post to youtube. "Man falls into frozen pond while fleeing from police - New Years day 2013 - Champaign, Il"

Are you kidding wrote on January 02, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Unfortunately, someone did post to youtube. "Man falls into frozen pond while fleeing from police - New Years day 2013 - Champaign, Il"

unsurprised wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

I was not there but I did watch the video that is posted and it clearly shows no attempt to rescue until after he went under. I did hear audio stating that he took medication but had not been taking it. With that being said, it would seem that he was having some type of mental issues which might explain why he would run and not stop. However, that does not mean that he had to die! Every time there is a tragedy or some sort of contact regarding certain people with the police, there is a big “WORD WAR” under the comment section. You have people that are going to blame the person regardless of what really happened and you also have people defending the police. It may not be questionable if everyone was treated the same. It is really hard to believe in the police when some of them are always involved in tragedy. There are some GOOD officers and there are some BAD ones. Unless you or your family have suffered from their abuse then you have no idea just how conniving they can be. Fleeing from police is what people do if they feel they are not going to be treated fairly. This is true for young men. I’m not saying that it is the right thing to do but I am saying that it happens. Young kids make foolish mistakes and it doesn’t matter who they are. They do not take the time to think thing through as they should but did we as a child? The bottom line is everyone is not a criminal and has something to hide and regardless of what they have done, they do not deserve to die the way this young man did. Now if it was your family that something awful happened to, you would be upset and your comments and ideas would be entirely differently than what your are posting. It is ridiculous to think that a person that was submerged in freezing water would fight or struggle with someone making an attempt to rescue them. What the person would probably be focusing on is getting out and getting warm. By the time they are rescued, they would or should be too exhausted to fight. Just curious what type of person would think such a thing. It appears that it is a lot of officers or officers’ family or friends making comments otherwise how would they know about his history with the police? “A history of fighting with the police” doesn’t sound good since he died. It makes you wonder if that was the reason that he died and was it their way of getting rid of a problem!

Are you kidding wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

"It makes you wonder if that was the reason that he died and was it their way of getting rid of a problem!" Oh my, that was harsh and rather unnecessary.

Also, anyone can go the the county circuit clerks website and plug in a name and possibly find court cases and actions against anyone, even traffic violations. Does not take someone with inside information, such as relatives or friends of a police officer or firefighter, to gain information to fuel the fire on this current issue.

unsurprised wrote on January 02, 2013 at 8:01 pm

What is harsh and unnecessary is all of this. Everyone has an opinion and we have our right to our opinion but why does it always have to be everyone is a criminal or something negative all the time about certain people. As far as the comment, I'm saying what anyone may thing when you put a problem with a death. You leave it wide open for that type of comment. Before I commented, I actually looked for someone with that name and age under the circuit clerk web site and did not find anyone with a record in criminal or city but I didn't look under traffic but I am sure if they were always fighting with the police, they would have been charged with a criminal case

rsp wrote on January 03, 2013 at 1:01 am

Just because the police have contact doesn't mean they arrest. A lot of times they just talk to people about what they can and cannot do. Get them to leave some place where they are not wanted. Plus, if there is a mental transport involved it won't show up on the website. Warning tickets and no trespass don't go up. Juvenile records don't go up. He was only 20. They had talked to him several times that day without incident, but he was becoming increasingly erratic. There's a difference between someone who can't help struggling with you and someone who is fighting because they are a criminal and are hoping to escape. I don't think this guy could help himself. 

rsp wrote on January 02, 2013 at 8:01 pm

The video is highly edited, the audio is from other calls, not this case. So that call about medicine is someone's private medical information that they posted without any regard for their privacy. It isn't this guy. Even if it was him they wouldn't have any legal right to post his medical information without consent. I wonder myself if he thought that if he went out there they would leave him alone. Or at least stay away. The way to know his history of interactions with the police is to listen to the scanner. It doesn't make him a criminal, or say he deserved what happened. It just means they are telling each other to be more careful so they don't get hurt and he doesn't get hurt. When he left his cart and ran to the ice he kept his hand in his pocket like he was holding something. Refused to take his hand out or to obey any other commands. And a lot of people fight the people who try to save them. 

RedWing5 wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Are You Kidding wrote:


>>"...we will all be irritated beyond belief when the outcome points no fingers or lack of responsibility on any enitities part [sic]."

I will speak for myself, thank you, and will definitely not be irritated beyond belief. This incident was not part of a movie or a television show: this was done in real time in the real world. Unfortunately, there are dangers in the real world and people live or die by their choices in the real world. There have been many posts above explaining how and why the first responders acted in the manner in which they did but the fact of the matter still remains the subject ran on to the thin ice and paid the price. As harsh as that sounds, it would sound much more tragic if anyone else had been allowed to rush onto the ice in a heroic yet futile fashion. Blame the victim? Who else do you want to blame for such a choice? My seven year old son knows better than to run on to the frozen retention pond in our backyard.

I know it is easy to for the cult of naysayers to criticize, find fault, and assign blame. That is your right. But I think you are sadly mistaken if you believe the first responders were just sitting around waiting for this man to die. 

Are you kidding wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

You completely misread the tone and intent of my posting you are commenting on. Just wait for the findings in this case.

outoftownie wrote on January 02, 2013 at 7:01 pm

Let's all just take a minute.


A man died. He did not deserve to die.


The first responders did the best they could to save him without endangering themselves and possibly leading to additional tragedy. They followed basic water/ice rescue protocols. That's all we can ask.


Looking at the video, it looks like he was pretty far in, and would have been difficult to rescue. It was an accident. As much as we want to save everyone, sometimes it is not possible.


Let the poor man rest in peace, and let us continue to support our first responders.

Joe American wrote on January 03, 2013 at 8:01 am

You are correct.  The vantage point of the videographer seems to show the suspect/victim having gone through the ice on the far east side of the pond.  I stopped by yesterday evening and it's apparent by the ice breakage that he was pretty much dead center in that pond, which means that there was no easy access to him from any point on the shore.

mstrom wrote on January 02, 2013 at 11:01 pm
Profile Picture

Yes I agree, take a minute.  Go easy Kenneth.  Our prayers and support to his family, to the fire and police that are faced with these situations, and to those who witnessed this tragedy.  To others,  please seek help for your situation before you find yourself in harms way.  Also, please do exactly as a police officer directs you to do.  How many bad situations are turned into tragedy because of not doing so.  Love and prayers to Mr. Brown's friends and family.

shirley wingate wrote on January 03, 2013 at 6:01 am

My heart goes out to this man's family as well as to all the first responders who were present at this tragedy.  I have a son who is a first responder and I know the toll that the loss of life takes on these professional men and women who train so hard to save lives.  The last thing these responders needed` to deal with in a situation like this was a multitude of quarterbacking onlookers who didn't know the response protocols which are in place and designed to protect as many people as possible. I do not understand why people stop to gawk/watch situations like this, especially when they have children with them.  Why in the world would you expose your children to this horrific event?  My instinct would be to get them away and protect their innocence from this unfortunate situation. 

syrinx wrote on January 03, 2013 at 1:01 pm

There is no question this is a tragedy. I have no doubt whatsoever that the first responders could have saved the man- had they not been hampered by regulations and procedures.  I would imagine everyone of them would have rather been able to just save the guy-but they were not allowed to.

There is also no question if the staff of the contractor desk- or any six contractors walking around, could have easily saved the man using materials in the store. Even just tying a couple guys off, and winching them back in if there was a problem would be easily done- remember how many people willingly went for a swim on new years day? In Minn, no less?

Again- first reponders are heros- when allowed to be-and again I am sure they all are devestated to have to be a bystander.

And whats up with an emergency boat that has to be inflated slowly?  Does that make sense to anyone?

bugmenot wrote on January 04, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I'd like to address some of the comments made by @syrinx and @perry.

I guess I should start off by saying that I'm a firefighter & EMT, and am also trained in technical rescue disciplines of trench, confined space, rope and structural collapse (USAR).  I am not trained in water or ice rescue, but these are low-frequency, high-risk rescues that share many common properties with other technical rescue disciplines.

First, were are not "hampered by regulations and procedures" that we would readily ignore.  Someone previously stated that if it were a house fire, we would just "run in".  Absolutely not.  In a house fire, we will *never* enter without proper personal protective equipment, we will never enter alone, and we will almost never enter without having at least two people on the outside also wearing full protective equipment that are able to go in and rescue us should something happen.  Why?  Because I don't do anyone a damned bit of good if I am injured or killed.  My loved ones expect me to do my best to come home to them in one piece every day.  I will do my damn most to save everyone I can, but in the end, I know that sometimes I just can't save everyone.  Will I put myself at a reasonable amount of risk to save someone?  Abso-damn-lutely - if the risk is reasonable and the probability of success is high.  Will I recklessly do it?  No.  If the floor in the house is spongy and appears to be about to collapse into the basement, I will most likely NOT cross it to save someone, because I know I will probably not save them, and we will probably just both die.

The type of equipment needed to enter a structure to fight a fire is simple enough that it can be donned in 2 minutes.  Add another 1-2 minutes to stretch a hoseline and charge it.

Low-frequency rescues such as ice, trench, confined space and structural collapse tend to require a lot more equipment to perform safely, and it takes longer to prepare it.  About two years ago, someone fell into a confined space right near a firehouse.  Untrained in confined space rescue procedures, one firefighter did what @perry and @syrinx suggest and just charged in with a ladder.  Well, they had never been trained, and did not lower atmospheric monitoring equipment first.  That would have taken a few minutes.  Because they didn't, the lack of oxygen (displaced by methane, I believe) at the bottom of the confined space caused the first firefighter to collapse.  A second firefighter saw his buddy go down and rushed in to save him.  He collapsed.  The end result?  Two dead firefighters and one dead civilian.  

How should it have been done?  First, drop a ladder down in the hope the victim can self-rescue.  Then send down atmospheric monitoring equipment.  Once a hazardous atmosphere has been found, set up ventilation blowers and gear up entry crews with supplied air breathing systems.  This takes time.  It takes enough time that someone alive upon arrival may be dead by the time they can safely make entry.  It sucks.  It hurts.  But we just can't save everyone.

In this case, dry suits are absolutely necessary to survive safely even short exposure in icy water.  The inflatable boat is needed to be able to pull yourself out of the water, or to retrieve a victim from the water.  The edge of the ice is too brittle, and you need the inflatable boat as a platform to work from.  What they did by trying to throw out the rope while the entry crews suited up is absolutely the correct procedure.  

If you watch this video, you'll see how hard it is to pull yourself out of a hole in the ice without something like that inflatable craft:


perryupopcorn wrote on January 05, 2013 at 7:01 am

In the end, they went out tethered to ropes, just like they could have done in the first place, so much for your essay. Some of you people keep talking as if the so-called rescuers faced certain death.. Last time I checked, no one died except for the young man.

rsp wrote on January 06, 2013 at 10:01 am

If you're such a genius why don't you go out there and see how easy it is? Ask the FD to be on standby to get you back out. Take a rope out there and see if you can throw better since that is also one of your complaints. I'm sure you can also do CPR better than anyone else in the whole wide world. Let me guess. You tried to get hired and failed the test. 

The Cahills wrote on January 06, 2013 at 3:01 pm

You need to observe a fire dept for a day and see how it is! They dont eat sleep and crap in all the gear it takes time! So get off your high horse and if you think its such an easy job try it out!

barb dwyer wrote on January 03, 2013 at 8:01 pm

i agree...they could have taken a long rope , tied a loop in the center , two men , one each takes an end of the rope, one stands still, one walks around the bank of the pond until he is the oppisite side of the pond,  whalla, the rope is reaching the victim,  one man pulls the rope until the loop is at the victim, victim puts arms through loop and then is pulled onto the ice and to one had to go into the water and a possible good outcome could have happened...i aint trained but i do have common sense

CharacterCounts wrote on January 04, 2013 at 8:01 am

Is it not common sense that no one, including police officers and firemen should not go out on a body of water covered with a thin layer of ice without the proper equipment?

Regardless of what anyone observed, only properly equipment public safety officers should attempt a rescue to someone in an opening on a frozen pond.  Anyone who believes otherwise is not very intelligent and does not have common sense.

Why should 4 or 5 police officers and firemen drown in order to save the life of one who took it upon themselves to go out on a pond covered with thin ice?  There has to be personal responsibility, there are consequencies to ones actions.  Don't blame others for actions of the person who drowned.

No one, regardless of age should flee from the police.  It is only an excuse when someone says a person flees the police because they are scared of the police.  If they are scared of the police, they have lacked proper guidance and education.  Children at a young age are taught by responsible adults and usually their parents, the police are your friend.

The only person responsible for this death is the person who went out on a body of water covered with thin ice.  Hopefully no government agency will pay any money for this persons decisions.  No employee of any government agency did anything wrong in this matter.  They did what common sense, good judgement and training lead them to do what they did.

My sympathies to the family of the person who fled the police and went out on the pond and eventually drowned.  I also support those police officers and firemen who responded to this situation and took the actions they did.

In the future, hopefully people will teach their children and family members to not flee the police and to not go out onto a body of water covered with a thin layer of ice. 

poodlehead wrote on January 04, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Saint Louis FD can save a dog that fell through the ice:

SaintClarence27 wrote on January 04, 2013 at 4:01 pm

In 4 feet of water. With waders.


The Cahills wrote on January 06, 2013 at 3:01 pm

and i also imagine with the water around St. Louis they have a full-time team and the equipt. on hand and ready to go they do alot more water rescues than champaign! use common sense!

perryupopcorn wrote on January 05, 2013 at 7:01 am

By your logic anyone who puts themself in harms way should just die, great way to look at it. Common sense did prevail in the end, they tied themselves to ropes and went out to get him. Oh wait, that's exactly how they could have went out in the first place.. 

JoeDoe wrote on January 05, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I come from a different world- a tiney country called Montenegro, Adriatic Sea, Europe. Curiosity brought me here, it's a rare and tragic story you are all arguing about and I wanted to see just how different our worlds were.

And they are so very different. Last winter in my city 4 passerby's saved a 14 years old girl who was brushed into the stormy see from a cliff while walking with her granny. Waves were above 3m high and the elder woman was crushed into the rocks almost immediately, but the child somehow stayed lingering on the surface. Total of 6 females and 4 males were walking nearby. All 4 men dived and succeeded to catch the girl and swim away from the rocks, it took no more than 2mins and police boat got them all 10mins later. My curiosity comes from a fact that this is considered absolutely normal here, actually any of the men who wouldn't do it would be considered dishonest to the rest of his life. But as I said earlier- I come from a different world, which lingers a couple of hundred years behind you in it's moral value codes and strange ways of tradition, so again- I am not here to acuse, just curiosity.

The other thing which interests me comes from a fact that I am PJP, which in our language means special police forces. Almost 20 years on the force, working as an instructor now, water related operations. We also have procedure codes, that's why I know that close- to- rocks storm sea rescues count as risk n1, high speed flood rescues count as risk n2, and ice break rescues go as risk number3. That's also why I know that the guy could have been saved for at least 3 times in the time duration of the video if the people who tried to save him knew what they were doing.

The procedure for this specific event is very simple:  1. There is no other command to my men but to deploy- that's actually why there are procedures, no waiting ever there, they are trained for it and know what to do.  2. Two men deploy the 25$- a- piece equipment: Rubber platform 1.5m x 2m, carried in our back packs, automatically inflated in 14sec when you remove the safety valve.  3.  Each man secured by a safety rope hooked to his belt, additionally belt- tied to the platfom. One gets the rope for the victim with a noose at the rope's end.  4. They use the platforms to glide to the safe proximity of the victim- no ice breakings, platforms make direct pressure on the ice minimal ( and you can also use them as a boat if needed ). The one with the additional rope approaches the victim face fronted, the other one comes from behind.  5.  If the victim doesn't catch the rope ( weak, fainted, paniced, what ever ), the procedure is that the one from behind takes the rope and tries to forcibly put the noose around the victim. The most important part: At no time he's entitled to abort the mission. Being ( procedurally ) secured with a rope and additionaly to the platfom makes him in a position to try to tie the victim to the very end. In trainings we do this procedure under 3min period, 50m ice surface distance. 

But again- it's different here, although I really don't expect that we have far better rescue training and equipment in a country which really is centuries behind you in the prospect of it's economic standards and development. As I said earlier- it was just curiosity that brought me here, and a simple question of common sence I wanted to ask all of those who so assertively defend the good guys, their equipment and procedures, mostly puting the sole blame on the victim and his actions: Do you really, in a sound mind, believe that the equipment which the rescue team is ( procedurally, sic! ) bound to use when performing a rescue of a person in ice cold water is a boat which takes 20 mins to be inflated?? Please check the stats then, the percentage of people who can survive such a period in ice cold water and not faint of hypothermia and drown is really not that big. It's actually so small that those people could save their efforts of inflating the boat at the first place.


Commonsenseman wrote on January 05, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Fleeing from the police/resisting arrest is a crime, lots of second guessers out there, amazing how they criticize the police for everything but when they need help....they call the police.  If the police are so bad, dont call them when you need help, if you can do better than do it yourself,  I can't imagine anyone running out onto thin ice without proper training and gear.  If its so easy I'd like to see some of you people try it

JoeDoe wrote on January 05, 2013 at 10:01 pm

Ok, being kind of objective on the issue, I'd say that those policemen and firemen there weren't gulty of anything. In my opinion they just aren't trained for such stuff, and I mean even the basical training wasn't there. It is also my experience that those people feel more regret about the tragic incident than any of us could.

I'll finish my comments here with a little piece of advice for any of you who ( God forbid ) might meet a similar situation: There is a couple of hundred years old trick called ''A fishing rope'', but it still works just fine. It was originally used for rescues at sea when the victim can't catch the rope thrown to him, but works just as good at smaller ice surfaces. The point is to throw the rope anywhere ( even not so close to the victim ), and then make a circle around him/her while keeping the rope freely falling behind you. When you make the full circle just move to any direction and firmly pull the rope, it will go directly to the victim.

In this case they actually just needed a couple hundred meters of rope, and to make a circle around the pond ( without ever touching the ice ) after they throwed the frisby. At the end the rope would find the guy, and that's all the proper training and gear which could have saved a life here.  

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 06, 2013 at 10:01 am

If he would have grabbed the rope, it may have worked.

Would people in your former country have stood by videotaping the man in the water with their children by their side?  Would they have criticized the police if the man had drowned?  Welcome to America.

Please give your opinions on gun control in future articles.  I am curious how your former country deals with guns.

rsp wrote on January 06, 2013 at 10:01 am

You mean Bosnia? Etc?

JoeDoe wrote on January 06, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Not a former country, I live in Montenegro. No, they wouldn't just stand by videotaping, with or without kids, and yes, they would critise the police, but there would be absolutely no thoughts about any kind of law suits. The head of the crew which was on the spot would resign, along with the chief of police and the fire department, it's a standard practice here.

Thrust me, there is no way I could explain the difference in mentality and the general way of life between here and there, and it would be even harder for me to explain how unusual this event seems to us. Maybe the easiest way is to describe how I got to this place. You'll find the story about the incident at It is extraordinary rare that our news make stories from such a local level anywhere abroad, but in our way of reasoning it is just unbelievable that someone could have drown in front of so many people, so this particular story hangs there for days.

In a way to connect it to your last question: Montenegro counts approx. 700k general population, 17 murders account in 2012, 1 policeman killed in the last decade. On the other hand, it's a country which spent almost 500 consecutive years in constant wars with Ottoman Empire ( and afterwards Italy and Germany ), with an extremely long and strong tradition of gun holding. You might fairly say that just about every home in Montenegro has a piece or two. Then again, 15 years ago a law which restricts public gun carrying was introduced, and it is well respected ever since. The crime rate didn't change significantly. 

Altogether: Most probably our way of looking at death is much different of yours- not so many tragic incidents here, which along with our odd tradition that considers giving a life for another the ultimate value of a honorable man makes it totally unbelievable that such a thing could happen. But again- this is just an explanation, with no thoughts of criticism.

I personally came here because such kind of rescue is my line of work and it made me curious to see how it had happened. As for the ''Fishing rope'' tactic- it's the oldest trick in the book, but thrust me, it's extremely efficient. If the guy was suicidal it clearly wouldn't help, but if he was not the chances would be more than fair. There is actually a reason why making a circle ( and not a line as someone suggested )- water victims are usually exausted and without energy and strength needed to hold by a rope ( and believe me- getting out of water by holding all your weight with two hands to a rope is extremely hard, especially if in ice cold water ). The circle makes the rope envelop around the torso so getting out requires less effort from the victim. Also connected to this issue, I noticed that the victim was making huge number of moves with his hands, and someone commented that he was asked to do so as signs to the rescue team. If that's really the case maybe those guys should review the procedures- in such kind of situations the victim lives solely of his energy, and any kind of unnessesary moves shortens his survival time for quite a bit. In our procedure codes the ''talker'' from the rescue team has just a single task- to keep the victim as focused and still as possible, and if he ask for signs he asks the victim to close and open his eyes.

That would be all from me, sorry for the interuptions and insufficient English, bye. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 07, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Thank you for responding to my questions.  Your English is fine.  It is better than some of the comments made by locals.  

The Cahills wrote on January 06, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Pretty sad you want to blame the first responders for this mans death! Yes the police probably did stand there and watch as they are not likely to be trained on this type of rescue! As for the fire dept. first there are many safety factors that have to be worked out, every rescue is different and everyone has to be on the same page so no other injuries or deaths occur! Also yes they are there to rescue but also not to put there life in complete danger! Protect life and property is their job and thats what they did they protected their life! Same thing its a very difficult decsion to make, same thing with a burning house if it is unsafe the safety officer has the hard desion to determine if they can make the rescue safely! Yes they put their life on the line everyday but they are not there to set themself up to die or it would pay alot better than it does! If all of you have the solution and watched this guy die and you were truely concerned you would have jumped in even with being threatened with arrest! Quit all your complaining about the community if you dont like it and dont feel safe ill be happy to help you pack your bags!

82sage wrote on January 06, 2013 at 6:01 pm

 I have refrained from commenting what a tragic event. A young man of 20 lost his life! His family to live on without, the responders to live with the tragic event, the children that somehow were allowed to witness this, the commentors that would turn this into their own agenda ( WHAT the SAM @$## does guns have to do with this?), is this what we have become? Please don't answer. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man. What a horrific event for those who witnessed this tragedy. What have we become, watch a young man die, I am NOT blaming the responders. I am saddened to the utmost over a 20 year old that lost his life. The way WE have responded is almost as SAD! Peace be with you... RIP young man...

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 07, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Well.. you have responded.  Glad you got that off of your chest.

use er name wrote on January 07, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Why didn't the NG immediatlely  dispatch a "reporter" to cover this story as it happened. Why does this NEVER seem to happen. Why can't I find a picture of the perpetrator on this website?

rsp wrote on January 08, 2013 at 10:01 am

Perpetrator? I'm not real sure that's the right word under the circumstances. All they wanted to do was talk to him. 

use er name wrote on January 10, 2013 at 8:01 pm

 Causing a disturbance. Fleeing the police. Endangering the FD by running onto a lake and falling in, necessitating a rescue attempt. 

720 ILCS 5/31-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 31-1) 
    Sec. 31-1. Resisting or obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee. 
    (a) A person who knowingly resists or obstructs the performance by one known to the person to be a peace officer, firefighter, or correctional institution employee of any authorized act within his official capacity commits a Class A misdemeanor.

 (720 ILCS 5/26-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 26-1) 

    Sec. 26-1. Disorderly conduct. 
    (a) A person commits disorderly conduct when he or she knowingly: 
        (1) Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to    alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace;  


JoeDoe wrote on January 08, 2013 at 8:01 am

I really had no intention in further commenting here, but the harshness of comments and criticism of some of the arguers addressed to the people who tried to pull the rescue makes me eager to address them. From the point of view of someone who's professionally able to evaluate that specific event I may say that the critics are to harsh and quite wrongfully based. 

I'll say it again: It's visible from the video recording that the rescue team was absolutely untrained for such a specific activity. Shortly: Taking 20mins to inflate the boat can not be a procedure, throwing the frisby for such a long time also can not be a procedure. But most importantly- dragging that huge thing over the ice in such kind of suits, and WALKING ( especially in proximity of an ice break ) can not be a procedure. You never walk on an ice surface which had already shown a fracture. If if happens that you don't have the required equipment you need to lie down and glide with your hands and knees aparted as wide as possible, it will lower the risk of ice breaking for approx. 50 times and significantly lower the risk of an INJURY to yourself if the breaking happens anyway.

But again, in my eyes the criticism stated here is wrong for two mayor aspects:

1. You absolutely can not hold those people personally responsible for the lack of training, it's simply not their fault. Also, do not even think that you may know what a feeling it is when you know that a life depends on you and that life is lost. God forbid that any of you ever get to know such a deep regret.

2. You are absolutely wrong that those two guys that approached the victim were not endangering their lives. Partially due to the lack of training, and partially due to the eagerness and agressivness to speed up and save the victim, they were actually quite endangered there. There is plenty of things which could have happened. You need to know that even a plain fall on such a surface may be terribly dangerous. The fall trough an ice break with a loss of consciousness is almost 100% fatal, and believe it or not- even the rope doesn't significantly increase the chances in such a situation, it's almost impossible to get an unconscious person out of an ice break without using your hands. Further more, under certain conditions the water may have extremely strong fluctuations under the surface even in a retention pond, mostly depends on temperatures of the water and air and the average pond depth. As a matter of fact, judging on what I could see on the video, this pond had agressive fluctuations under the surface. Altogether, there is far more than just a single reason for it, but those people did take plenty of serious risks there, and it was clearly visible that they made maximum physical efforts to save the victim.

Finally, from my distant position I can only say that it is a tragedy to lose a life in such an accident, especially because it could have been saved. But I also want to say to all of you ( both sides ) that with such kind of mostly not well argumented comments you are missing the point... If you all learn anything from such a tragedy then his death won't be meaningless, and somebody else's life might be saved in future. 


rsp wrote on January 08, 2013 at 10:01 am

I'm amazed that you are even commenting at all. These men are highly trained. You described a rescue that was so dangerous as to be impossible to believe and say it's the correct way. Walking on the ice? None of them did that. They crawled and used the boat. Considering you didn't see the rescue please don't criticize professionals for doing it the right way and twisting it by saying little jabs like "I'm not trying to say anything and they just weren't trained". Of course you are. You can't have it both ways of saying how dangerous it is and at the same time discount the safety measures they took. You don't like them using a boat, called the ropes useless, what does that leave. You claimed to wear a floatation device on your back so you can jump into the ocean and save people. Perhaps our fireman can get phone booths to change into their superhero costumes. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on January 08, 2013 at 12:01 pm

 JoeDoe;   Thank you for your comment, and expertise.  Shared experience is important in training.  Illinois does not get as much frozen ice on ponds, and lakes as does Minnesota, and other northern states.  Shared experience, and techniques benefits everyone in the future.

gingergirl wrote on January 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Just finished reading a story about a 30yr. old man that was rescued from an icy pond (or lake) in Wacounda, Il.  The man was saved by a team that (appropriately dressed) went out on the lake and pulled him to safety in a raft.  He was riding an ATV.  Notice I mentioned wacounda and the fact that he was riding on an ATV.  This man is still alive (need I say more)?


SaintClarence27 wrote on January 27, 2013 at 3:01 pm

If you are trying to make a point, then yes, you should say more.