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Icy waters take young life

The drowning Sunday of 8-year-old Kymello McLane in the icy pond at Hurley Park saddens the entire community. A giving, adventurous young boy has been taken from his family far, far too soon.

Drownings are always tragic, but they seem doubly so when children are lured by the sight of ice on a body of water. The urge to explore is hard to resist. Children don’t realize the ice is more fragile than it appears.

Frozen ponds are not a frequent sight in this part of North Carolina, so children lack experience dealing with them and may not be forewarned. After all, who knew — besides the people living immediately around the park — that part of the Hurley Park pond was frozen over?

According to police reports, Kymello and two 11-year-old friends were playing near the pond when Kymello walked on the iceand broke through to the frigid water below. The other children tried to save Kymello by reaching out with sticks. Sadly, that scene will play over and over in their young minds for a long time. By the time rescuers pulled him out of the water, Kymello was unresponsive.

The recent freeze has caused a spate of tragedies like this across the country, with victims that include a 13-year-old in Reno, Nev., a 10-year-old in Rockville, Md., and a 7-year-old in Washington, D.C. In the past week, all fell through ice on a body of water and drowned. And it’s not just park ponds that pose a hazard. One of the children who died was exploring a frozen retention pond behind a shopping center.

If you haven’t done so already, warn your children to stay off any frozen body of water they find here this winter. Ice has to be at least five inches thick to support human activities, and that just does not happen much in Piedmont North Carolina. If they see someone fall through ice, they should do as these children did — reach out to help without jumping in, and get help immediately. Unfortunately, even though rescuers arrived on the scene promptly Sunday, Kymello was under water too long to be saved.

Sympathy goes to the family and friends of young Kymello McLane. By all accounts, he was a fun and happy child with a good heart. His death will have a profound effect on all who knew him.

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