It happened in the town of Minooka, which is southwest of Joliet, Ill.
Neighbors say it wasn't unusual to see Ryan Rames out walking the family dog, but they knew something was wrong when Ryan's dad went door-to-door looking for him.
"They pulled him out, and they put him on the little raft. There were six or seven of them just running with them to get into the ambulance," neighbor said Hilary Krippel.
Krippel was among the neighbors who stood by, helplessly watching as dive teams pulled 11-year-old Ryan Rames from a pond.
"It was horrible. It was just horrible to see something like that," Krippel said.
Ryan left his home at 10:30 to take the family dog for a walk. By 11 o'clock, his dad was knocking on neighbors' doors, wondering if anyone had seen his son.
"I started to make me think, 'Why is he coming to ask?' because Ryan is very responsible. If he comes over, I invite him in and he's like, 'I have to tell my parents.' He's very responsible like that. His parents know where he's at all the time," said Krippel.
Ryan's dad spotted foot and paw prints heading toward a pond less than a block from their home. Dive teams found Ryan three hours after he disappeared.
Police say there were no witnesses to the drowning. So, no one can be sure whether Ryan went out on the ice on his own or perhaps was chasing his dog.
The bottom line is that the pond, like countless others, may appear frozen, but it is not.
"They put pumps in over the summer to get rid of the algae, and I noticed that it wouldn't freeze around there. It was either shallow or not frozen at all," Krippel said.
Neighbors say Ryan was a fifth grader student at Minooka Intermediate School. They say he loved to run track, that he would invite friends to church, and he always offered anyone he saw a smile.
"[He was a] real casual, fun kid. He played with the boy and everybody. He just seemed very, very sweet," said Krippel.
Ryan was one of four children, including a newborn baby sister.
Police say they will continue to try to determine why he went out onto the ice.
Ryan's dog, a Shih Tzu, also did not survive.