The ordeal happened just before 6 p.m. in a pond near Central Park South and Sixth Avenue.
A witness said he saw a group of boys go out onto the ice, where they were taking selfies and jumping on the ice -- when they broke through the surface.
Two Good Samaritans -- Bennett Jonas and Ethan Turmbull -- were nearby and saw the kids fall into the icy pond. They ran over to help when they heard screaming.
Jonas said he knew he should not have gone into the freezing water, but said they didn't have time to wait. As they pulled them out, one by one, the conditions of the teens worsened.
When he got to the last one in the back, Jonas said he was struggling to reach him -- but found his backpack, grabbed it and pulled him up out of the water.
"If I didn't grab him, a second later he was gone," Jonas said. "He was barely breathing."
Watch as Jonas and Turmbull described the difficult rescue:
An Eyewitness News viewer snapped this photo of the scene as the rescue operation was underway:
After the teens were pulled from the water, first responders arrived and provided aid to those who fell in.
Watch exclusive, unedited video showing first responders rush the victims into awaiting ambulances:
The big concern was the temperature of the water. Meteorologist Lee Goldberg has some perspective: