A Georgia family is mourning a teenager who died while trying to save his friend in an icy lake.
Koren Brooks, 16, was playing with four friends on top of what they believed was a frozen Ellison Lake near the Lakeside Vista Apartments in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw on Dec. 28 when it started to crack underneath them.
A neighbor who witnessed the tragedy said he thought nothing of the teenagers playing on the ice atop the bed of water that did not appear deep until he heard screams.
“It looked pretty sturdy at first, so I didn’t think much of it,” Alex Pollard told FOX 5.
However, according to the neighbor, two of the teenagers fell through into the frigid water and got trapped in the ice.
“One of the kids was holding on to the other one,” said Pollard, who then yelled for his roommate to call 911 as he was carrying groceries from his car.
Koren took action to save his friend, who first responders pulled out of the water. However, rescuers did not find Koren until more than an hour later, and he did not survive. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“Koren saved one of his friend’s life, but the cold slushy iced water was [too] much, Koren got caught in debris under the cold water and didn’t come up,” the boy’s aunt Brandy Wells wrote as part of an online fundraiser on behalf of Koren’s mother.
Wells said Koren was a “quiet and brilliant kid” who loved to play video games and planned a future career in making video game soundtracks. When Koren wasn’t mastering his music or gaming, he would be playing with his friends outdoors, which she said led to the “unfathomable moment.”
“Koren Troy Brooks will be remembered for his love for all, family, and friends, for his creativity, and his ability to make any situation funny,” Wells wrote.
The Kennesaw Mountain High School junior would’ve been celebrating his 17th birthday on Jan. 12 if he was still alive; he reportedly had asked for a laser tag party.
In the midst of their pain and sorrow, Koren’s family is proud of his bravery.
“You’re a hero! You are the only friend who risked your life because you’re [are] bold, brave, and loved hard,” Wells wrote on Facebook. “You wouldn’t hurt a soul and every kid, big or small, admired you.”