Illinois Man Dies Trying to Rescue Granddaughter Who Fell in Frozen Pond

by Liz Holland
(Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

An Illinois man lost his own life when he dove into a frozen lake to save his granddaughter. Following the tragedy, Carlos Serafin is being called a hero. 

10-year-old Ma’Lyiah was chasing after one of her dogs on Saturday when she fell through the ice, according to her great aunt, Amanda Beals. As soon as Ma’Lyiah fell, Carlos Serafin “instantly [slipped] on his slippers and just [started] running out,” Beals told news station WCIA. Beals says that Ma’Lyiah was out walking her dogs with her sister Bailey. Two of the animals broke free and ran out into the pond, so Ma’Lyiah followed. The ice broke beneath her and she fell into the dangerously cold water below. 

When Beals arrived at the scene, both Carlos Serafin and Ma’Lyiah were under the water. She tells WCIA that her brother, Bill Croy “let me know that … he couldn’t get to them.” 

She continues, “And I said, ‘Who, Ma’Lyiah?’ I said, ‘Where’s Carlos?’ And [Bill] said, ‘He’s in the pond.’ I said, ‘Carlos is in the pond?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, I couldn’t get to him,'” Beals recalled.

The Lincoln Fire Dive Team rescued Ma’Lyiah from the icy pond. WCIA reported that despite maximum effort from medical personnel, they were unable to save Serafin. According to a statement from Lincoln Fire Protection District Chief Frederick Reynolds, rescue personnel from the Charleston Fire Department also contributed to efforts to save both Serafin and Ma’Lyiah. 

Family Sets Up GoFundMe For Illinois Man and Young Girl

Beals has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for medical expenses for both Serafin and Ma’Lyiah. A portion of the fundraiser’s description shares that medical teams retrieved Ma’Lyiah and Carlos from the pond. They were then transported to the hospital. “The local hospital worked for a long time on Carlos and tried everything possible but unfortunately he was under the ice for too long and was not able to be revived.”

The GoFundMe description also revealed the hospital was able to get Ma’Lyiah’s heart pumping again and she was then transported to Peoria. Beals says that as of Sunday, Ma’Lyiah is in critical condition and not showing any brain activity other than seizures. “Her heart and lungs are working but we are praying for a miracle,” the page reads.

One of the dogs who ran out onto the ice, Horchata, unfortunately did not survive the incident. With no health insurance in place for Serafin, Beals hopes to use some of the money raised to contribute to his funeral expenses. 

Amanda Beals told WCIA that Serafin “died a hero” and that “that’s just who he was.” She added, “He would do anything for his girls, he would do anything for his dogs, he would do anything for anybody.”

If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe, you can visit the fundraiser here.