Man drowns after plunging into frozen lake to save children in eastern China

The 65-year-old raced over to help the boy and girl, aged 7 and 9, when he heard them shouting from the water

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 February, 2018, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 April, 2018, 1:40pm

A 65-year-old man has drowned after he jumped into a frozen lake to rescue two children in eastern China, state media reports.

Zhang Chonghua rushed from his home when he heard the children shouting for help in the village of Luxiang, Jiangsu province, China News Service reported on Wednesday.

It was minus 7 degrees Celsius (19 Fahrenheit) on Tuesday when Zhang plunged into a hole in the four-metre deep lake to help the boy and girl, aged seven and nine.

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The children had fallen in while playing nearby, according to the report. Other villagers and police officers also jumped in to help.

But after the children were safely pulled from the lake, Zhang was exhausted and unable to stay afloat. The villagers tried to help him but he had stopped breathing when they dragged him from the lake and could not be resuscitated.

One of the men, Zhong Chonggui, said the water was so cold that his body went “numb” and he “could not move at all”. “I had to ask people to hold out a tree branch so they could drag me from the lake,” Zhong was quoted as saying.

The children’s grandfather, Wang Yifu, told the news agency that the kids would not have survived if it had not been for Zhang.

“If Zhang hadn’t risked his life to save our children from the frozen lake, they would have lost their lives,” Wang was quoted as saying. “He is our family’s saviour and we couldn’t be more grateful to him. It should’ve been me in that lake, not him.”

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Another villager, who was not identified, said Zhang was the first to jump into the lake.

“We saw him dragging the children with great difficulty when we arrived,” he said.

Zhang was known in the village as a warm-hearted man who was always helping others, according to the report.

“He was kind to his neighbours and would never say no to anyone in need of help,” Lu Yongqi, party secretary of the village, was quoted as saying.

He also supported his nephew Zhang Wei with his three children, buying them clothes and schoolbooks and looking after them, and helped take care of his cousin’s farm.

It was not known whether Zhang had any other family.