Ten-year-old dies after falling through ice in Crown Farm pond -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 8 a.m. Jan. 14, 2014.

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A 10-year-old Rockville boy died Monday evening after being pulled out of a sediment pond in Gaithersburg’s new Crown Farm neighborhood.

The boy, identified on Tuesday as D’Angelo Jayvon McMullen, of the 10100 block of Reprise Drive, died at about 7:46 p.m. Monday after being taken to a local hospital in critical condition, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Graham.

“They were kids, just playing,” Graham said of the three boys whom rescue personnel were called to save Monday at about 4:15 p.m.

The pond was iced over, but not thick enough to support their weight.

“The takeaway here is that no ice in this region is going to withstand human weight,” Graham said, warning people not to go onto iced-over lakes or other bodies of water even if they appear frozen over.

The two other boys also were taken to a local hospital after being rescued from the pond to be treated for hypothermia, he said.

According to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel, the children — described as about 9 to 11 years old — were playing on ice on a sediment pond behind a new development in the Crown Farm neighborhood of Gaithersburg when the ice gave way.

The pond is unmarked and partially bordered with black rubber silt fencing.

Rescuers plucked two of the children from the pond minutes after their arrival. One of them was still on the ice, and the second boy’s foot had fallen through the ice, but rescuers still were able to pull the two to safety quickly, Graham said.

The third boy, D’Angelo, had fallen all the way into the pond, in water that was about 5 feet deep, Graham said.

Rescue crews used thermal imaging to search the pond. A Maryland State Police helicopter equipped with additional thermal imaging hovered over the pond and aided in the search.

It took rescuers about 30 minutes, using poles and searching with their hands, to find the boy and pull him out of the icy water.

Initially listed in critical condition, he died Monday night.

The pond is in Crown Farm, a large residential and commercial district under construction in Gaithersburg. The pond controls sediment and manages stormwater.

Fencing is not required by Gaithersburg’s City Code, but city officials required contractors to install a 42-inch safety fence for the pond as a condition of the erosion and sediment control plan approval process in 2010, said the statement from John Schlichting, the city’s director of planning and code administration.

“City inspectors confirmed installation of the safety fence around Pond #1 at the beginning of construction [in 2010] and at subsequent inspections,” Schlichting wrote. “Removal of the fence has not been authorized by the City.”

Silt fencing about 30 inches tall partially bordered the pond Tuesday morning. A wide swath of land leading down to the water’s edge from Diamondback Drive was not blocked by any fencing, and there did not appear to be any fencing that was 42 inches tall.

At Rosemont Elementary School, Jimmy Sweeney, the school’s principal, said Tuesday that many of his students had arrived the day after D’Angelo’s death already knowing about the tragedy. The accident involved two of his students — D’Angelo, and another unidentified fourth-grader, whom rescue workers saved.

Sweeney said D’Angelo was a “good, energetic student” who liked science class. Despite it being D’Angelo’s first year at the school, Sweeney said the boy had made many friends at the school and left a strong impression on teachers.

“We are all going to miss him terribly here,” he said.

The school had extra pupil-personnel workers and counselors to help students process D’Angelo’s death, he said. School officials also sent out information on ConnectED, a notification service for parents, and sent a letter home with students explaining more details about the incident.

D’Angelo’s brother, a sixth-grader at Forest Oak Middle School, also was involved in the accident, but was rescued unharmed. Sweeney said officials at Forest Oak were working with him as well.

On Tuesday evening, D’Angelo’s family released a statement about their son’s death.

“We would like to thank all of our family, friends, and the community for their support during this difficult time,” it said. “Please respect our privacy while our family grieves the loss of our very special child.”