A man who plunged into an ice-choked pond to rescue a 5-year-old boy at an East Side apartment complex last night ended up losing his own life. The boy survived but was in critical condition at Nationwide Children's Hospital.
A man who plunged into an ice-choked pond to rescue a 5-year-old boy at an East Side apartment complex last night ended up losing his own life.
The boy survived but was in critical condition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
“He’s a hero,” Tammy Rhodes said of 30-year-old James R. Jenkins. “He tried. He tried so hard."
Rhodes, 42, was a guest at the Hartford on the Lake apartment complex and among the first who rushed to the pond and called 911.
“He did the best he could. He was trying to hold the boy up,” said Rhodes, who saw Jenkins go into the water after the boy apparently walked out onto the ice and fell in.
Officials weren’t releasing the boy’s name last night. It was unknown whether Jenkins lived at the complex.
Firefighters estimated the ice was about 2 to 3 inches thick.
Cherron Pinkston, 42, an apartment resident, heard the commotion and came out to witness the rescue attempt.
“He was holding the child and trying to stay above the water,” Pinkston said.
She remembers Jenkins saying, “I can’t hold my breath any longer” just before he and the boy went under.
Columbus firefighters were called at 5:41 p.m. to the apartment complex, which is across S. Hamilton Road and north up the road from Eastland Mall.
A battalion chief who was the first to arrive went into the icy water twice trying to reach Jenkins and the boy but couldn’t, Battalion Chief Patrick Ferguson said.
“He went out there with no consideration of his own life,” Ferguson said of his colleague, whom he declined to name.
Dive crews found the bodies about 15 to 20 feet from the shore. The pond is more than 6 feet deep in some spots.
Jenkins was recovered at 6:30 p.m., about 49 minutes after the first 911 call, and the boy at 6:42 p.m.
Both were unconscious.
Jenkins was pronounced dead at 7:09 p.m.
Ferguson said his hope was that although the child was in the water so long, the cold could help his chances for survival.
The pond has been the site of several drownings.
On Feb. 27, 2011, Shennell Mallory, 24, and her daughter, Kamiya Pettiford-Preyor, 4, died after the car Mallory was driving went into the pond. Her then-15-month-old nephew, Zemarr Mallory, survived.
Daynarro Hall, 30, of Saginaw, Mich., was found dead in the pond on April 17, 2011.
And a man swimming in the pond drowned on Aug. 1, 1998. Several signs posted around the pond say swimming was prohibited.
Apartment resident Latrice Rhodes, 27, Tammy Rhodes’ niece, was shaken by what happened. She said her 7-year-old son plays with the 5-year-old boy all the time.
“It could have been my son,” she said, though she regularly warns her son to stay away from the pond.
“I hate that lake.”