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January 7, 2013

Video: Firefighters unable to save drowning man

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Video shows firefighters and police attempting to rescue a man after he fell into a frozen lake while trying to flee authorities.

Kenneth Brown Jr., 20, died after he was trapped in the freezing waters of a retention pond for more than an hour before rescuers could get him out, according to the News-Gazette.

Brown was running from police after they responded to a domestic dispute call in the area, when he started jogging across a frozen lake and fell in.

22 fire personnel showed up to help rescue Brown, while officers tried to communicate with him.

Firefighters and an officer suited up to help rescue Brown and were being tethered together when other crew members threw a rescue disc, hoping Brown would grab it, but he didn't.

The newspaper reports that crews waited for a rescue raft to be inflated, and as crews went onto the ice to retrieve Brown, he had gone underwater. Crews were told the water was only waist-deep, but it was actually as much as 18-feet deep.

Six different firefighters and one police officer were in the water attempting to rescue Brown. Crews eventually had to dive to get Brown and transport him to the hospital where he later died.

Champaign Deputy Fire Chief Eric Mitchell said rescuers did all they could.

"They followed our ice-rescue guidelines pretty much to a T," Mitchell said. "It's a very low frequency (event) but a very high-risk rescue. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. They established command ... they made visual contact and attempted to talk to him, threw rescue devices, and went on the water. Going on the water is the last thing you want to do. They did all the other things first.”

Deputy Police Chief Joe Gallo said bystanders kept urging rescuers to get into the water to save Brown, but he said waiting for firefighters was the best decision.

Chief Mitchell agreed, saying charging into the water was not "safe for anybody. It might look like fiddling, but it's making sure the person is safe to do his job because you don't want to lose a rescuer."