Gaithersburg icy pond fall: Rescue tapes released

GAITHERSBURG, Md. (WJLA) - A caller told dispatchers that three boys fell through the ice of a pond Monday in Gaithersburg. While two managed to scramble to safety, he told authorities that one child – who turned out to be 10-year-old DJ McMullen – was in trouble.

Dispatcher: "What did you see?"
Caller: "I see three kids in a pond that looks like it's iced over and muddy and I see them and they're stuck."

The call continued, with the caller understandably shaken by the horror and hopelessness of what he was witnessing.

Caller: "Oh my God."
Dispatcher 1: "How far down?"
Dispatcher 2: "How far away from…"
Caller: "The one is drowning."
Dispatcher 1: "One is drowning."
Dispatcher 2: "Do you see the water there?"

Dispatcher: "Can they hold their heads out of the water?"
Caller: "They barely can. One keeps going under."
Caller: "Hold on!"

But DJ McMullen, a beloved 4th grader, could not hold on any longer.

ABC7 News has confirmed with the Gaithersburg Director of Planning and Codes that a fence surrounding the pond had been installed in October – but for reasons unclear, it was not up when the boys ventured onto the ice.

Carter Petersen says he often saw the boys playing in the area, and informed us that on Wednesday a new fence was erected around the pond.

"I know the fence did not go up until after it was too late, I'm afraid," he said. "Sad, they were good kids. They were nice kids."