May 30, 2023

A kind-hearted man almost met an early grave Sunday when he wandered out on a half-frozen lake in Woodlawn Cemetery to feed the ducks and fell through the thin ice.

The 50-year-old man, whose name was not released, meandered through the tombstones at the famed Bronx graveyard and walked out onto the ice over the water toward a family of ducks, officials said.

He was 25 feet from the shoreline around 12:45 p.m. when the ice gave out, plunging him chest-deep into the lake, authorities said.

His feet were stuck in the mud and he was unable to pull himself out, rescuers said. All the freezing man could do was cling to the sheet of ice in front of him, they said.

A cemetery worker called 911, and firefighters arrived to brave the bone-chilling water and rescue the man.

A team of Ladder 39 firefighters, who included Bravest Jason Warken, Jeff Daniels and Brian Fitzgerald, tied themselves to a safety rope, slid a horizontal ladder out to the victim and crawled out on their stomachs to pull the shivering victim to safety. The man had no strength left to help himself, firefighters said.

“He said he was cold,” Warken told The Post. “We don’t know exactly how long he was in the water. From the looks of him, it was somewhere just under 10 minutes, but he was pretty cold and pretty out of it. He just kept repeating, ‘I’m cold. I’m cold.’”

The man was rushed to Jacobi Hospital in serious condition.

Warken said it could have been worse.

“A few minutes more and he would be unconscious,” he said. “Your muscles just stop working in that cold.”

FDNY Lieutenant James Grismer warned people to stay away from ice-covered lakes while spring nears and the temperatures climb above freezing.

“We’ve had a couple of warmer days,” he said. “It’s important for people to know to stay off the ice. This guy wandered off feeding the ducks or something and fell through.”

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