Jan 11, 8:10 PM EST

Woman falls in Kansas ice pond; remembered as giving person

MOUNDRIDGE, Kan. (AP) -- A California woman who died along with her 8-year-old son after falling through ice on a Kansas pond traveled extensively, led a church youth group and helped gut and renovate houses.

After noticing her son Trent had gone past the shallow area of the ice they were on and fallen into the water, Polly Claassen, 44, went after him to help.

"I think her motherly instinct just kicked in," said June Krehbiel, the aunt of Polly's husband Gary. "She was going as fast as she could." Krehbiel said the family was visiting from California and had been staying at her house, several blocks from the pond, when the incident occurred Jan. 6.

Gary was also on the ice when it broke, and all three of the family members ended up in the water. Rescuers pulled all three out of the water, but Polly and Trent died minutes after arriving at hospitals.

Gary was treated and released from a hospital, the Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/2j8olW5 ) reported.

According to June, Polly Claassen loved to cook, often had neighborhood kids playing at the house, and let an effort to feed people at a shelter during Thanksgiving.

"Polly thought of others," June said. "She taught that to Trent, too."

Trent, who would have turned 9 in February, was a Cub Scout and participated in many team sports. Counselors were available at Trent's school in California this week.

Gary Claassen said he wanted to thank the rescuers that saved him, saying they risked their lives that day for his family.

People continued to gather at June's house the day after the incident to grieve and take care of one another.

"Many people were touched so deeply by this," June said.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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