The recovery of two teens who fell into Budd Lake while ice fishing on Monday was hampered by the freezing water and short daylight hours, Acting Morris County Prosecutor Frederick Knapp said.
“Due to the freezing temperature of the water each separate, two diver team could only remain in the frigid water for approximately 25 minutes to conduct each search pattern,” Knapp said of the search for Nicholas Cianciotto III and Clyde Schimanski III.
According to Knapp, the tragedy struck shortly after 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening when both teens were lost into the frigid lake when the ice gave way at their fishing location.
“A local resident near Sand Shore Road heard their cries and attempted to locate the boys. As the ice was cracking under his feet, the resident was forced to retreat for fear of losing his own life,” Knapp said. “Mount Olive Township Fire, Police and EMS services personnel immediately raced to the scene and valiantly attempted to rescue the boys unsuccessfully.”
Knapp said that local rescue efforts, aided by New Jersey State Police air and ground personnel were forced to cease rescue efforts as temperatures and darkness made recovery unsafe.
“On Tuesday morning, the New Jersey State Police Marine Bureau and TEAMS units brought their divers and a special air boat to the boys’ last known location. After tediously breaking a path through the packed ice from shore, the New Jersey State Police divers were able to reach the location where it was believed both boys had been ice fishing,” Knapp said. “Using SONAR and other specialized equipment the New Jersey State Police divers located and recovered Nick within a few hours.”
With the families of the teenagers waiting on the shore, Knapp said the recovery efforts intensified and the divers spent the rest of the day making numerous additional dives attempting to locate Clyde before having to call off their search until Wednesday. Knapp said after seven additional hours and eight dives on Wednesday, Clyde was recovered.
“My special thanks must go to Colonel Rick Fuentes and the New Jersey State Police Marine Bureau for taking the lead when specialized recovery equipment and personnel were needed,” Knapp said. “Their tireless efforts in this tragic event have been outstanding. There would not have been a recovery without their efforts.”
Knapp said that the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Coordinators have been assisting both families throughout this ordeal.
“We all share their grief as does the entire Mount Olive and Morris County Community,” Knapp said.