ABC7's Tom Roussey
Tragedy on Gaithersburg pond
WASHINGTON - Police have identified the boy who died Monday evening after falling through the ice as 10-year-old D'Angelo McMullen of Rockville.
D'Angelo was the third boy who was pulled from a Gaithersburg pond after playing on the ice with his friends earlier in the day.
The two other children who fell through the ice were rescued first by fire and rescue personnel. They were taken to the hospital, treated and released.
"We would like to thank all of our family, friends, and the community for their support during this difficult time," his family said in a statement Tuesday. "Please respect our privacy while our family grieves the loss of our very special child."
D'Angelo was rescued from the water approximately 25 minutes after falling through the ice. He was rushed to the hospital, where officials say he died.
"When rescuers got on scene they were able to rescue two of the kids very quickly but then they had to do a furious search for the third boy. They actually had to grope with their hands in the murky water," ABC 7's Tom Roussey tells WTOP.
Officials have not released the names of the other children, though reports indicate they were all between ages 8 and 11.
The storm water retention pond is located behind the Crown Farm development, north of Great Seneca Highway on Diamondback Drive, which is currently under construction, Roussey tells WTOP.
While the pond has a significant ice cover from last week's freeze, it's very thin.
"They say it's about 10 feet deep in this pond. They did finally find him that way but he had been under for about half an hour at that point," Roussey said.
Students and staff at Rosemont Elementary School, where McMullen was a fourth grade student, mourned the loss of their friend Tuesday. In a letter sent to Rosemont families Tuesday, principal James Sweeney said there was a support team of psychologists, counselors and pupil personnel workers from Montgomery County Public Schools on hand to provide counseling and support.
"For those of you who knew D'Angelo, we ask that you remember and celebrate his smile and indeed his kind words. We, too, will cherish his zeal for knowledge and how he loved to impart this to others. For those of you who did not know D'Angelo, we ask that you respect our sadness and support the Rosemont Elementary School with your understanding," Sweeney wrote.
Sweeney told WTOP that D'Angelo was a friendly, well-known student, who was recently seen at a school-sponsored family movie night.
"He had a lot of friends, he made friends very quickly, especially for a new student just coming in this year, here, he did stand out with many of those qualities."
A friend of the boy tells Roussey that the child planned to go out on the ice that day and that it wasn't the first time. Neighbors say children have been seen playing on the pond before.
Roussey tells WTOP that Montgomery County Fire officials say it's "a really important lesson that ice is never, ever to be trusted in this area."
One neighbor says the water has always been a dangerous spot for children.
"There's nothing really blocking you from getting over there," says Vanessa Tuason.
Tuason is a mother of three, ages 10, 12 and 15.
"I never thought it was a good idea to put that there," she says of the retention pond. "There's a lot of kids that live in this area. For them to put that water there with no gate was a concern."
Earlier, ABC7's Tom Roussey tweeted this photo:
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