Carlos Serafin died after he tried to rescue his granddaughter, 10-year-old Ma’Liyah White, from a frozen pond in Illinois. His family is mourning his loss while remembering an incredible man who didn’t hesitate when it came to someone in need.

According to reports, Ma’Liyah White walked across the pond Saturday morning because she was chasing after three of her six dogs. The little girl and the dogs soon fell into the frozen water, located on East County Road 620 North. Ma’Liyah’s older sister, Baliey, notified their grandfathers, Carlos Serafin and Bill Croy, who came running over to help.

Ma’Liyah White is currently in critical condition at Carle Foundation Hospital in Peoria, Il. The 10-year-old’s family is praying that she makes it out alive. They say that while her lungs have started to recover, the little girl still has swelling in her brain and very little brain activity.

Carlos Serafin Ma'Liyah White
Carlos Serafin died after he tried to rescue his granddaughter from a frozen pond. The grandfather is being remembered as a hero and selfless man. (Credit: GoFundMe)

Without thinking, Carlos Serafin grabbed a broom and jumped into the water. He tried to save the little girl, who had already been pulled under the ice. Bill Croy broke up the ice trying to help, but soon Serafin was sucked into the water too.

The Charleston Fire Department was called to the scene around 7:53 a.m. They were able to pull Serafin and his granddaughter out of the water by 8:15 a.m. Firefighters wore protective suits to keep them warm in the freezing water.

Officials were also able to pull the three dogs out of the water. One dog named Horchata later passed away.

Ma’Liyah White was airlifted to the hospital and is still in critical condition. Carlos Serafin died from his injuries after local doctors tried to save him.

“The local hospital worked for a long time on Carlos and tried everything possible but unfortunately he was under the ice for too long and was not able to be revived,” said Amanda Beals, the girl’s great-aunt.

Since the incident, Beals has been updating friends and family on Ma’Liyah’s condition. She says the little girl is recovering, but still has a long way to go.

An update from Jan. 17 said, “Ma’Liyah is resting peaceful and does have some brain swelling. Her lungs are improving. Thursday we will probably know more about brain activity. Keep the prayers coming. As we all know there is a lot of power in prayer and there can never be too many.”

The 10-year-old didn’t suffer any fractures after falling into the frozen pond, but doctors have put her on heavy medication to prevent seizures. It is unclear how long she will be hospitalized for.

Carlos Serafin Ma'Liyah White
Ma’Liyah White survived after her grandfather rescued her from a frozen pond. The 10-year-old is currently hospitalized and in critical condition. (Credit: GoFundMe)

Beals spoke out about Carlos Serafin’s death and how incredible he was. According to her, the grandpa was the legal guardian of Ma’Liyah and her sister Baliey and loved them with his whole heart.

She said, “Our families want everyone to know that Carlos died a hero. He was a very spontaneous person and never thought twice about anything. And it showed until his last breath trying to save Ma’Liyah. He loved his girls and dogs so very much.”

According to Carlos’ family, the grandfather didn’t have any life insurance. A GoFundMe page has been set up to pay for Serafin’s funeral costs and treatments for Ma’Liyah White. So far, over $29,000 has been raised.

Funeral plans have not been announced for Carlos Serafin.