The heroic 11-year-old boy who lost his life after plucking his friend from a frozen Queens pond was described as an angel by awestruck neighbors.
Anthony Perez never managed to make it out of the frigid waters at Strack Pond in Forest Park after rescuing his 12-year-old pal Tuesday afternoon.
“G-d made him and he made an angel,” Anthony’s neighbor Angela Vargas, 65, said Wednesday.
“He gave his life for his friend. No kids do that and he’s only 12 years old.”
The nightmarish episode was set in motion when Anthony’s friend walked out on the frozen-over pond, ignoring a sign that warned of “Danger — thin ice.”
The ice gave way, sending the boy into the water.
Anthony, who was standing on the edge of the pond, rushed over in time to save his friend only to end up unable to get back out himself.
The friend sprinted to his nearby apartment to get help. The 911 call came in at 4:05 p.m. and first responders arrived four minutes later, authorities said.
But by then, Anthony had been submerged for roughly 30 minutes, sources said.
Three cops and three firefighters waded through chest-deep water, chopping through the ice with their hands, to reach Anthony.
They found him not breathing under a break in the ice. The unresponsive boy was rushed to Jamaica Medical Center where he died roughly two hours later, cops said.
“Anthony was always so happy and full of life,” said Anthony’s friend Noah Rodriguez, 14.
“He was always fun to hang around. He never seemed sad at all.”
That Anthony would put his life in danger to save his close friend came as no surprise to Noah.
“I’m not surprised he risked his life,” Noah said. “They were really close. They used to hang out with each other almost every day.”
The two boys lived around the corner from each other along the edge of Forest Park.
Anthony was known in the neighborhood as a big-hearted boy who displayed an uncommon kindness.
“Two years in a row, when I hung … lights, he would come over, and say ‘You need help? You need help?’” recalled Vargas, his neighbor.
The last time Vargas saw Anthony the boy offered her a gift.
“He said, ‘Here, Abuela — a lollipop,’” she recalled, tears welling in her eyes.
“He was a sweet boy.”