The family tried to use a long dog leash to throw to Serafin and pull him to safety, but he couldn't reach it.
Two sisters, ages 8 and 10, were out walking their six dogs on Saturday morning near Charleston when two of their dogs managed to escape from their leash and ran onto a frozen pond. The older sister, Ma’Lyiah White, fell into the ice-cold water. The two of them screamed out for help as they were still within shouting distance of home. Immediately, Carlos Serafin, 31, sprinted to the pond in a bid to rescue Ma’Lyiah, but he too ended up falling in the waters. Serafin and his partner, Bill Croy, were legal guardians of the girls, who are the biological children of Croy’s oldest adopted daughter, according to NBC News.
“He didn’t think, he just did—and it showed until his last breath," Croy said. The family tried to use a long dog leash to throw to Serafin, and pull him to safety, but he couldn't reach it. "I threw it at him and he said, 'I can't see it anymore, I can't see it, Bill!'" a tearful Croy, 47, recounted. "I could just see him going under and I just couldn't get to them."
The family immediately knew they wouldn't be able to deal with the situation themselves, so they called 911 for help. Rescuers with the Lincoln Fire Protection District and Charleston Fire Department arrived at the scene and pulled the girl and man out at 8:06 a.m. and 8:15 a.m., respectively. They were immediately rushed to the hospital, officials said. Unfortunately, Serafin could not be saved. As for Ma’Lyiah, she still remains in critical condition. One of the family's dogs also perished in the ice break, officials said.
During winters, a lake can look calm and serene once there's ice, but there is always danger involved, given how ice can crack easily, Charleston Fire Chief Steve Bennett said. "People, unless they have any experience or training, don't really think about. They just see ice and they think, 'Oh, it's thick enough,'" Bennett said. "A good rule of thumb is if it's less than four inches, you probably ought to stay off of it."
Serafin, a former restaurant manager, and stay-at-home dad, was in bed when he heard the girls scream for help. Without thinking twice, he immediately put on sandals to run to danger, family members said.
"That's what made him Carlos. He was very spontaneous in life," said Amanda Beals, Croy's sister, and the girls' great-aunt. "It truly, truly showed until his last breath. He didn't have a care in the world. He just wanted to take care of others."
A GoFundMe has been set up to pay for Serafin's medical and funeral expenses, and for Ma'Lyiah's medical bills. Ma'Lyiah has since recovered. "Ma’Liyah was finally able to come home July 1 she is adjusting to new routines and working on her therapies. She does still have seizures and her ataxia is still very strong," said one of her aunts.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | Funeral and Medical Expenses