"Our family has been deeply touched by the response from the community these past few days."
Two people died and one was severely injured after falling through the ice William P. Pack Memorial Park pond in Moundridge Friday afternoon.
According to Moundridge Police Chief Jay Kessler, a family — mother, father and their 8-year-old son — fell through the ice that had formed at the north end the pond. Emergency services were notified shortly after 3:30 p.m.
Teams from Moundridge, Newton, Hesston and Halstead as well as a Lifeteam helicopter responded to the call.
The 44-year-old mother Polly Claassen was taken to Newton Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 4:58 p.m., while her son, Trent Claassen, was transported to Wesley Medical Center and pronounced dead at 5:14 p.m. The father, 43, was taken to Mercy Hospital in serious condition, but has since been treated and released.
The Claassen and Galle families of Moundridge thanked the community for the support in a difficult time.
"Our family has been deeply touched by the response from the community these past few days. The first responders, medical professionals, our neighbors, and our friends from across the country have shown wonderful care to us. We hope that families in similar situations will experience the love and support we have felt. This tragedy has renewed our appreciation of our larger family, the preciousness of life and the hope we cling to in Jesus Christ,” the family said in a statement.
The victims were from California and visiting relatives in the area.
McPherson city employees discussed the hazards of walking on ice at the McPherson City Commission meeting Monday morning.
“We’ve repeatedly posted to keep off the ice and this last weekend was a grim reminder of why,” said McPherson Police Chief Robert McClarty. “The circumstances around the death of an 8-year old child and a mother are truly tragic. We don’t want a family to have to deal with that. Parents, keep your kids off the ice and our officers will repeatedly give you reminders to stay off the ice.”
Though the ice may appear solid, it’s hard to determine if it’s safe to cross. Officials advise not walking on ice at all and keeping pets off the ice as well.
McPherson Fire Chief Jeff Deal explained that the event sparked an assessment of the department’s current water rescue methods.
“There is no such thing as thin ice. It doesn’t matter if its thin ice, thick ice — it can all be misgiving. Don’t walk on ice period,” Deal said. “We have reviewed our procedures and we are prepared with the appropriate rescues methods if necessary. We are also looking at some county-wide assets, but the best thing we can do is to prevent it from happening.”
The McPherson Public Lands and Facilities Department has these recommendations to keep in mind:
n Always keep your pets on a leash if walking near a partially frozen waterway. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue your pet; go for help.
n Reach-Throw- Go. If a companion falls through the ice and you are unable to reach that person from shore, throw them something (rope, jumper cables, tree branch, etc.). If this does not work, go for help before you also become a victim. Get medical assistance for the victim immediately.
n If you fall in, try not to panic. Turn toward the direction from which you came. Place your hands and arms on the unbroken surface, working forward by kicking your feet. Once out, remain lying on the ice (do not stand) and roll away from the hole. Crawl back to your tracks, keeping your weight distributed until you return to solid ice.