Man who fell through ice dies

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Autopsy results show a 20-year-old man who fell in a partially

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- The man in charge of a dive team is defending police but others said they didn't do enough to pull a man out of a Champaign pond.

Police said it all started when Kenneth Brown, Jr. was bothering customers at a restaurant on Tuesday evening. He took off when officers confronted him. He ran onto a pond that had frozen over. That was on West Town Center Boulevard, just outside Menard's.

There was a crowd out there watching it all happen. Champaign police officers threw ropes for the man to grab onto and tried to get him to come closer to shore. But they didn't go out on the ice.

"When we arrived on-scene, Champaign was already actively involved in trying to find the person under the surface of the water," said Cornbelt Fire Chief Lloyd Galey.

20-year-old Brown fell through the ice. Even though Champaign's first responders have the equipment for surface rescue, they're not equipped to go under water or out on the ice.

"I don't want to say it's reasonably safe," said Galey. "There's always a danger there but with the proper equipment, we're protected from the elements, we have a lot of buoyancy which means we can float very well."

The Cornbelt dive crew is based in Mahomet. When they heard the call, they headed to Champaign to help.

"The police did exactly the right thing," said Galey. "They stayed on shore. They kept talking to the individual and doing everything they could to encourage him to stay in the surface of the ice."

People stood by and watched the situation unfold but Galey said it's better that they stayed on solid ground.

"Emergency responders as well as civilians trying to do what they think is the right thing and go out on the ice to try to get the first person," said Galey. "Before it's over, you may have two or three people in the water and sometimes they don't survive."

The dive team was able to get Brown out within a few minutes but he wasn't responsive by that time. He died early Wednesday morning. 

Original: 8:55 AM
CHAMPAIGN -- A man has died after falling through ice on Tuesday evening. The Champaign County Coroner pronounced 20-year-old Kenneth Brown Jr. dead early Wednesday morning.

Police were called to a domestic disturbance at McAlister's on Tuesday.  When they got there, the man involved took off running. Police chased him and he ran right onto the pond.

"He ran out onto the ice about fifty feet out, the officers said, and stood there," said Champaign Police Officer Tod Myers. "The officers tried to verbally tell him to come back and then the ice broke."

For several minutes, the man was able to hold his head above water. Investigators said they couldn't save him right away because it was too dangerous.

"There were a lot of people yelling at us to go help him but it's still unsafe," said Myers. "You don't know how thick the ice is. It's not worth it to go out there and fall in the ice and then you have multiple people that you're trying to rescue."

Police said the pond is about 15 feed deep, not nearly shallow enough to stand in. After a while, the man went under. It took a dive team close to 15 minutes to pull him out. The man was taken to a hospital just as soon as they pulled him out of the water. He was unresponsive at the time.

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