Children describe frightening moments in icy pond

February 16, 2012 8:47:34 PM PST
Neighbors saved four children after they fell into a pond in north suburban Grayslake Thursday afternoon.

The children were playing near the pond when all four broke through the ice and went under. They are all OK and no one was transported to the hospital.

Izabella Stepien stood on the edge of the pond, trying to help the four kids who had fallen through the ice.

"Scary, just the worst thing in your life you can see. So thank God we had the rope," she said.

Stepien quickly got a rope and threw it out to the kids. One was able to get out but two of the children - 12-year-old Mary and 10-year-old Joey Wessely - remained stuck in the freezing water screaming for help.

"Every time I'd try to get on to the ice, I would be there two seconds and then I would just fall back in again," said Joey.

"You could hardly breathe it was so cold," said Mary. "It was like choking and dragging you under."

While they struggled trying to get out, neighbor Robert George saw what was happening and ran across the street to help. He tied one end of the rope around himself and went in the icy water after them.

"Got all the way out and grabbed the kid, told him to grab me around the neck and just pulled us back in," George said.

Cheryl Wessely was home a block away when she got the call that her kids had fallen through the ice, something she warned them to stay away from.

"It's one of my biggest fears," said Wessely. "Seeing ice, being from the south, I was afraid and walking on water never seemed like a good idea."

Paramedics arrived a short time after the kids were already safe, thanks to the quick thinking neighbors.

"If my kids were ever in need, I hope somebody who jump in and go after them so that's what I just did," said George.

"I'm on my way to a parent-teachers conference as opposed to a funeral, thanks to the neighbors here who helped save our kids," said Fred Wessely, father.