A 15-year-old boy posted "On the ice baby" to his Snapchat account, a haunting last message before he was pulled from frozen water in New Jersey Wednesday night. Shortly before, another teen died in a similar case at a different icy pond in the Garden State, according to police and family members.
The first death was a 13-year-old boy; he was one of three teens who fell through the ice at a pond behind police headquarters in East Brunswick just before 5 p.m.
Two of the boys were able to get themselves out of the frigid water and called for help. The officers quickly responded in an effort to get the remaining 13-year-old out of the water, forming a human chain to go in and attempt to rescue him, East Brunswick Lieutenant Frank Sutter said.
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As the officers were trying to reach the boy, he sank under the water and they lost sight of him.
Firefighters and a water rescue team arrived just after, and pulled the boy out. He was rushed to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital, but he was pronounced dead there, officials said.
The teen has not been identified, but the superintendent of East Brunswick schools said in an email to parents that an eighth-grade boy had died.
Half a dozen East Brunswick firefighters and two police officers were treated at the hospital for hypothermia and other minor injuries.
Not long after that nightmare, the 15-year-old victim and another teenager were walking across a frozen-over pond in Carteret — also in Middlesex County, just 20 miles away — when the ice broke beneath them, sending them plunging into the water, the town's mayor said.
One of the boys was able to get out by himself, but the 15-year-old didn't resurface. Dozens of first responders were on scene in Carteret, working together with ropes and diving equipment to help the teen who was stuck in the water for more than an hour.
The boy, David Tillburg, was taken to a hospital in Newark where he later died, his aunt confirmed to NBC New York. She said the family was allowed to say their final goodbye at the hospital on Thursday.
The last update on the 15-year-old's Snapchat account is a photo of him in the dark with the caption "On the ice baby," according to this aunt.
"He was under the water for too long. They couldn't find him so the dive team had to come and find him. He was there for maybe 40 minutes, maybe longer, could have been an hour," his aunt said. "I just hope everybody tell their kids not to go on the ice. Don't do that. I mean, kids are going to be kids but tell them."
East Brunswick Police Chief Frank LoSacco warned people against going out onto any patches of ice on ponds or lakes, even with the recent colder weather. "It's not safe, don't go on any ice unless it's an ice skating rink," he said.
The New Jersey State Policemen's Benevolent Association tweeted after the accidents, calling it a "tragic night."