Anthony Perez, 11, and his friend were on the banks of a pond in Queens, New York, on Tuesday afternoon when Anthony’s friend — despite warning signs about thin ice — began walking out on the frozen water.
Suddenly, Anthony’s 12-year-old friend fell through the ice and into Strack Pond, the New York Daily News reported.
But Anthony didn’t rush to get help — he became the help, heading out on the frozen pond in Forest Park to rescue his friend, the paper said.
While Anthony was able to save his buddy, the Daily News said Anthony was unable to get out of the frigid waters.
“It appears that the child went out about 50 feet before the ice let go underneath him and was plunged into the water,” FDNY Deputy Chief George Healy told WCBS-TV.
Anthony’s friend ran to his nearby apartment for help — just around the corner from where Anthony lived — and first responders arrived four minutes after a 4:05 p.m. 911 call, the paper said.
But by then Anthony had been under the water for about 30 minutes, sources told the Daily News.
Three police officers and three firefighters waded through chest-deep water, the paper said, smashing through the ice with their hands to get to Anthony.
They found him under a break in the ice, the Daily News said, but Anthony wasn’t breathing.
Anthony was rushed to a hospital, the paper said, and he died about two hours later.
What are others saying about Anthony?
Anthony’s neighbor, 65-year-old Angela Vargas, was devastated. “God made him, and he made an angel. He gave his life for his friend. No kids do that,” she told the Daily News.
Anthony’s friend, Noah Rodriguez, 14, told the paper that Anthony “was always so happy and full of life. He was always fun to hang around. He never seemed sad at all.”
“I’m not surprised he risked his life,” Noah added to the Daily News. “They were really close. They used to hang out with each other almost every day.”
Vargas added to the paper that “two years in a row, when I hung the Christmas lights, he would come over and say, ‘You need help? You need help?’”
The last time she saw Anthony, he offered Vargas a present, the Daily News reported: “He said, ‘Here abuela, a lollipop.’ He was a sweet boy.”