Illinois Man Dead After Jumping in Frozen Pond to Save Granddaughter, 10: 'He Died a Hero'

·2 min read
Carlos Serafin
Carlos Serafin

GoFundMe Carlos Serafin and family

An Illinois man is being hailed a hero after he jumped into a frozen pond in an attempt to save his granddaughter, tragically sacrificing his own life.

Carlos Serafin "instantly [slipped] on his slippers and just [started] running out" after 10-year-old Ma'Lyiah fell through the ice while chasing after one of her dogs on Saturday, the girl's great aunt Amanda Beals told Charleston, Illinois-area station WCIA.

According to Beals, Ma'Lyiah and her sister Bailey were out walking their dogs when two of the animals broke free and ran onto the frozen pond, prompting Ma'Lyiah to chase after them. The ice then broke, and she fell in.

When Beals arrived, both Serafin and Ma'Lyiah were under the water, and Beals' brother (another of the girls' grandfathers, Bill Croy) "let me know that ... he couldn't get to them."

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Ma’Liyah
Ma’Liyah

GoFundMe Carlos Serafin's granddaughter Ma’Liyah

Ma’Liyah
Ma’Liyah

GoFundMe Carlos Serafin's granddaughter Ma’Liyah

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"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.

Ma'Lyiah was rescued from the pond by the Lincoln Fire Dive Team, but despite medical personnel's best efforts, they could not save Serafin, WCIA reports. According to a statement provided to the Herald & Review by Lincoln Fire Protection District Chief Frederick Reynolds, rescue personnel with the Charleston Fire Department also assisted in the efforts to retrieve both Serafin and Ma'Lyiah.

"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," Beals says, in part, on a GoFundMe set up to help with Serafin's funeral and Ma'Lyiah's medical expenses.

According to the GoFundMe, one of the dogs, named Horchata, also didn't survive the accident, and the family has "no life insurance" for Serafin.

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"The local hospital was able to get Ma'Lyiahs heart pumping again and she has been transported to Peoria in critical condition," Beals adds in the GoFundMe, revealing that as of Sunday, "Ma'Lyiah is not showing any brain activity only seizures. Her heart and lungs are working but we are praying for a miracle."

Beals told WCIA that Serafin "died a hero," explaining, "that's just who he [was]."

"He would do anything for his girls, he would do anything for his dogs, he would do anything for anybody," she added.

Those who wish to contribute to the family's GoFundMe to help with Serafin's funeral and Ma'Lyiah's medical expenses can do so here.