An Illinois man died trying to rescue a ten-year-old girl who fell through a frozen pond when she tried to save her dogs.
Carlos Serafin, 31, and his husband of six years Bill Croy, 47, the legal guardians of sisters Ma’Liyah White and Bailey, 8, had all been out walking together in Charleston with the family’s three dogs on Saturday morning.
Shortly before 8am, the dogs had fallen through the ice of a frozen pond – and Ma’Liyah ran after them to try and save them.
Serafin showed no hesitation before jumping into the icy pond to rescue Ma’Liyah White, the girl’s aunt, Amanda Beals told DailyMail.com.
Both Serafin and Ma’Liyah White were eventually pulled from the water by Lincoln District firefighters and dive crew, but Serafin was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.
Ma’Liyah was airlifted to Carle Foundation Hospital, where she remains in critical condition.
She has not shown brain activity but Beals, said she remains hopeful Ma’Liyah will recover as her lungs have shown slight signs of improvement.
‘Our families want everyone to know that Carlos died a hero. He was a very spontaneous person and never thought twice about anything,’ Beals told DailyMail.com Monday.
Carlos Serafin (left) died trying to rescue 10-year-old Ma’Liyah White (center left) after she fell through a frozen pond when she tried to save three family dogs. Serafin and his husband Bill Croy (center right) have had guardianship of Ma’Liyah and her sister Bailey, 8, (right) for five years
‘Our families want everyone to know that Carlos died a hero. He was a very spontaneous person and never thought twice about anything,’ Croy’s sister Amanda Beals, said. Croy and Serafin had been married for six years
Shortly before 8am, the dogs had fallen through the ice of a frozen pond in Charleston, Illinois, – and Ma’Liyah White ran after them to try and save them
‘And it showed until his last breathe trying to save Ma’Liyah. He loved his girls and dogs so very much,’ she added.
First responders arrived to the scene after they were alerted of the tragic accident around 7.45am that day.
Firefighters and dive teams jumped into the frozen pond and began searching for Ma’Liyah and Serafin.
Crews managed to pull one victim from the water around 8.06am and the second at 8.15am, according to a report by the Lincoln Fire District. They were taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health hospital, where Serafin was pronounced dead.
They also pulled the three stranded dogs from the pond. One dog didn’t survive.
Beals added that Serafin (pictured above with the girls) loved them and their dogs very much
Croy gained guardianship over the girls before marrying Serafin, with whom he had a 16-year age difference
Both victims were eventually pulled from the water by Lincoln District firefighters and dive crew, but Serafin was pronounced dead shortly after being taken to a hospital
‘They did get Ma’Liyah’s heart going again but unfortunately Carlos didn’t make it. He died a hero. He loved these girls more than words can say,’ Beals wrote on Facebook after the tragedy.
After being rescued, Ma’Liyah was airlifted to Carle Foundation Hospital. While her brain experienced swelling, she did not suffer any fractures, her aunt said.
On Monday, Beals said that the little girl’s heart and lungs are improving but doctors have yet to see changes in her brain function.
‘She is a strong little girl and when we were telling her we love her before they took her away her head was turning a little bit so we are hopeful that’s a good sign,’ Beals said.
Beals is asking for prayers as the family navigates this difficult situation, adding that Serafin did not have life insurance. She has set up a GoFundMe page to help cover costs for Serafin’s funeral and Ma’Liyah’s recovery.
‘Thursday we will probably know more about brain activity. Keep the prayers coming. As we all know there is a lot of power in prayer and there can never be too many,’ Beals said on a Facebook update Monday on Ma’Liyah’s condition.
The girls have been raised by Croy and Serafin, Beals said. Croy gained guardianship over the girls before marrying Serafin, who was 16 years younger than him.
‘It’s a well blended family,’ Beals added.