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Two Young Men Rescued After Falling Through Ice in Central Park, Police Say

By  Julie  Shapiro and Victoria Bekiempis | February 5, 2013 3:07pm | Updated on February 6, 2013 3:03pm

 A person fell into The Pond on the southern end of Central Park, officials said.
Teens Rescued After Falling Through Ice in Central Park
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CENTRAL PARK — Two young men were rescued after falling through the ice in a Central Park pond Tuesday afternoon, police and witnesses said.

The men, from The Bronx, were trying to take pictures when they crashed through the surface of The Pond, near 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, just after 1 p.m., according to witnesses and the FDNY.

Police and firefighters responded and pulled the victims from the water, officials said.

The men, who are 19 and 20 years old, were taken to New York Hospital in stable condition, police said.

One police officer and one firefighter, who both assisted with the rescue, were also taken to the hospital in stable condition, fire officials said. Two parks workers who landed in the water during the rescue refused medical attention, police said.

The men were each given a summons for "unlawful ice activity," police said.

Patrick Killip, 25, was with his friend Ali Wilmshurst, 28, on the sidewalk overlooking the pond when they saw the two men walk out onto the ice and start taking pictures, they said.

"They fell in, and as they tried to get out, the ice started cracking, said Killip, who raced down to the shoreline. "One kid got out."

The crowd was frantic as park-goers watched the other man struggle in the water, Wilmshurst said.

"We all felt helpless," she said. "I didn't think the second one would make it."

Rafael Perez, 36, who works for the Central Park Conservancy, said he raced over to the pond's edge after a park-goer told him someone had fallen in the water. He said he saw the second man still in the water, about 40 feet from the shore.

"He had this look of panic in his eyes," Perez said. "I just kept telling him, 'Stay calm, help is on the way.'"

Parks workers initially tried to throw a rope out to the man, but it was too short, Perez said. They also tried using a red ladder that is kept by the shore for rescues, but it didn't reach either.

Eventually, a firefighter in a wetsuit was able to reach the man with a harness, and rescuers from the NYPD and FDNY pulled him to safety, Perez said.

The man was in the water for about 15 to 20 minutes, Killip and Wilmshurst said.

When he was removed, the crowd cheered and clapped, they said.

"He was talking and giving a thumbs-up," Wilmshurst said of the young man, who was taken away on a stretcher.

The pond appeared mostly covered with snow and ice Tuesday afternoon, though a large area of open water showed where the rescue had taken place. Signs around the perimeter read, "Danger: Thin Ice."