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Brother’s Keeper: 6-Year-Old Illinois Boy Drowns Trying to Save His 4-Year-Old Brother Who Fell Into Icy Pond, Mother Struggles to Save Them

The Illinois parents of two young Black boys who both died after falling into a frozen pond in the Palatine suburb of Chicago, are speaking out about losing their sons. Family members said the boys were “inseparable” and were each other’s protectors.

Brothers drown in icy pond
Brothers Romalice Jr., 6, and Ro’Siah Brooks drown in an icy pond (Credit: Family’s GoFundMe)

Teghan Ivy said she has no idea when things will get better for her after one of the most horrific experiences could ever have happened to her family on Thanksgiving Eve. The mother lost her two sons, Romalice Jr., 6, and Ro’Siah Brooks, 4, in a freak accident at a Palatine pond on Wednesday, Nov. 23, according to ABC 13.

A GoFundMe started by a family friend named Sarita Winston informed those interested in helping the family, about the circumstances around the boys’ deaths. The older boy, only 15 months older, jumped into the pond to save his little brother.

Their father, Romalice Brooks, who was at work when the accident happened, explained in more detail to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The pond had ice on it,” he said. “They had been to Grandma’s house all the time and had not gone in the water. I guess the ice attracted them. And the ice broke beneath Ro’Siah. [Romalice] called to Mom and he went in to try to save his brother.”

Ivy said she was inside the boys’ grandmother’s house when she heard her children crying out for her after they went under the water. The father said the mother tried to get her babies but was hindered by the ice.

“Mom got in, as well. She was halfway to them and the ice broke beneath her,” Brooks said. She was only saved after neighbors used a patio umbrella to reach her and bring her to safety.

When it was all said and done, reports say the Brooks brothers were submerged in the icy pond for 20 minutes before rescue divers retrieved their limp bodies and brought them to land.

“I heard them, ‘Mommy! Mommy!’ And I came outside. I did the only thing I knew to do. I took off my shoes and I got on that ice and tried to get them. I didn’t make it to them. The ice cracked and I fell in, too. I tried!” Ivy said. “It felt like forever waiting for them to get them out that water.”

According to police, members of the Palatine Fire Department pulled the boys’ bodies out of the water around 3:31 p.m. The boys were separated and taken to Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

The youngest was then transferred to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and pronounced dead at about 11:45 p.m. on the same day.

Romalice, the heroic big brother who sacrificed his life to try to save his brother, was transferred to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn and died a few hours later.

“Roisah left the earth fighting and couldn’t fight anymore he passed on to heaven 11-23-2022,” the crowdfunding profile read. “Romalice Jr left this world fighting as well; he passed on to heaven with his baby brother on 11-24‐2022. The Brooks Boys have left their Parents, Siblings, and family with broken hearts that is still filled with Love and Laughter and Amazing memories.”

Brooks said his princes were fighting.

“They heard us. They heard us in that hospital. And they were fighting. They fought!” the bereaved dad recalled. “But they were in that water for an incredibly long time. One was in there for ten to 15 minutes. The other one was 15 to 20 minutes.”

Brooks called his fathering his sons a “great experiment” he was honored to have participated in, even if he did not get to experience watching them grow into men.

He exclaimed, “It was a great experiment, and I am so sad that I could not complete that.”

Adding, “The most I can do is just remember the great times that I had with my boys. Experimenting with them as far as being a father that I wanted to be the father that I did not have.”

Ivy and Brooks said their children were inseparable and always looking out for each other.

“They were the definition, like I said, of ‘my brother’s keeper. Even to their final moments, they were together,” Ivy shares.

While Romalice Jr.’s sense of compassion and protectiveness was that of a person much older, he liked to play with dinosaurs and Legos, and collect rocks like many other kids, according to his namesake.

 Dad also remembered Ro’Siah, his youngest, liked to play with marbles.

Now, the parents consider the children their “guardian angels.”

“They’re watching over us. Our guardian angels,” Ivy said. “I’m thankful we were there to be there by their sides. We were able to talk to them. They heard us.”

The Brooks brothers’ deaths came on the day before the family was set to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. While the tragedy broke the hearts of all the members of the family, they still said they were grateful for having the kids in their lives for that short time.

“Thank you for the best six and four years I’ve ever experienced. You boys have taught me so much, and I’m forever grateful for that,” the mom said.

The parents are raising money to pay for their boys’ double funeral. In over three days, with a $30,000 goal, the campaign has raised almost $29,000.

“I’m broken,” the mom confessed. “I know in time things will get better. But, right now, I don’t see it. I miss my boys. They fought. They fought so hard. They really did. And they together.”

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