Mother, 8-year-old son killed in accident on frozen pond

by: Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk Updated:

Gary and Polly Claassen are pictured with their son, Trent. Polly and Trent Claassen were killed Jan. 6, 2017, when all three fell through the ice covering a frozen pond during a vacation in Kansas. Gary Claassen survived.
Christina Temple/YouCaring

LOS GATOS, Calif. - A California woman and her young son were killed Friday when they fell through a frozen pond during a visit with family.

Gary and Polly Claassen and their 8-year-old son, Trent, all of Los Gatos, California, were visiting family in Kansas when the accident took place, KTVU in Oakland reported. Gary Claassen, who survived the accident, told the news station that he, his wife and their son decided to go “shoe skating,” sliding over the ice on the pond without skates. 

They asked those who live in the community they were visiting if the ice would be thick and strong enough to hold their weight, Claassen told the news station.  

“They kind of analyzed the weather, how cold it had been, how many degrees below zero for how many days,” Claassen said. “And we heard time and time again from people who were locals that it would be absolutely safe.”

The inch-thick ice was weaker than anticipated, and it gave way about 20 feet from shore, plunging Trent Claassen into the frigid water, KTVU reported. His mother and father tried to pull him to safety, but were unable to do so.

First responders who got to the pond about 50 minutes later were able to pull Gary Claassen from the water alive, but Polly and Trent Claassen had been in the water for too long, the news station reported. Gary Claassen remains in Kansas, recovering from the injuries he suffered in the accident.

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Gary Claassen described his son as “better than what I could have ever hoped for.”

Polly Claassen was described on a YouCaring fundraising page set up to help her husband as a loving person who was well-known for her generosity. Polly Claassen was a Sunday school teacher who had recently started a full-time job at a local church, while her husband had just begun a part-time job selling insurance.

“Polly was a go-getter with boundless energy and always full of big ideas. Trent was a sweet and kind almost-9-year-old who loved Harry Potter and Legos,” the page read. “Gary would support each of them in all their endeavors, such as his loving commitment to Trent's Cub Scout involvement and his support of Polly's youth ministry. His kind, gentle manner and obvious love and devotion of his family was apparent to all.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the page had raised more than $17,000 of its $20,000 goal. 


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