A nine-year-old girl from Henrico is fighting for her life in the hospital, after falling through ice into a pond.
The little girl was listed in critical condition as of Sunday evening, despite the efforts of a nearby teenager.
Several children were playing in the woods in back of the Treehouse Apartment complex off Pony Farm Drive. Somehow the girl ended up in the frigid water, according to Henrico Police Lt. C.J. Maurice. However, a teenager nearby didn't hesitate to rush right into the pond before rescue crews arrived, aiming to save the girl's life.
Henrico High School senior Ammar Jabbar heard children yelling for help as he was making his way home through the complex.
"My nephew came up to me. He said, ‘She's drowning! She's drowning!'" said Ammar.
Ammar reacted on instinct, rushing down the rocky hill into the wooded area, through a muddy swamp. He then faced a chilling scene, a child drowning in the pond.
"She was laying face-down in the lake, and her body was floating," he recalled. Ammar charged over the ice, collapsing into the water, just before reaching the girl. "I walked all the way across…I collapsed in."
Submerged, Ammar tried to break through the ice to pull the girl out.
"I was trying to chop on the ice with my arm, and I could feel my body heat just keep dropping," he said. However, Ammar says the girl was stuck. He felt his body starting to freeze up in the 35 degree water. Ammar says he had no choice but to get out. "I'm pretty sure if I were to have stayed out there any longer… I would have went into shock."
Firefighters arrived within three minutes of the 911 call. Crews extended a ladder across the pond. A firefighter rushed across the ladder to rescue the girl, now under the ice. The entire operation was completed within eight minutes, according to Henrico Fire. Officials say the child is now battling effects from potential hypothermia and drowning.
"My heart just poured out for her," added Ammar.
The girl's family is with her in the hospital. No charges are being pursued at this time. Although, residents say they'd like the woods fenced off.
Henrico County's Division of Fire released the following ice safety information:
Due to fluctuating temperatures, it is not safe to venture on any ice-covered lake, stream or storm water retention pond. Even if the ice is a foot thick in one area, it can be 1-inch thick just a few yards away. It's impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance, thickness, daily temperature or snow cover alone. Ice strength is actually dependent on all four factors, plus water depth under the ice, the size of the body of water, water chemistry, currents and distribution of the load on the ice.
If you fall through the ice, don't panic. If there is someone with you, have them pass you the end of a branch, rope, belt, coat sleeve or whatever is available to help pull you onto the ice, where you can roll or wiggle to safety. If you're alone, get your arms onto the ice and kick hard with your feet to help lift you onto the ice, then roll to safety.
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