published: 8 Jan 2013
MOUNT OLIVE, New Jersey — Clyde Schimanski Jr. said Tuesday morning that he believed his son, Clyde Schimanski III, was one of the boys who had fallen through the ice on Budd Lake.
“Imagine screaming and knowing you’re going to die,” Schimanski said. “He died a horrible death.”
Emergency personnel spent several hours Monday evening searching part of Budd Lake in Mount Olive for two teenagers after receiving multiple reports of screams for help at about 6:20 p.m., Morris County officials and local police said.
Two residents went on to the lake in a boat responding to the shouts for help, but they did not find anything, acting Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said in a joint news conference Monday with Mount Olive Mayor Robert Greenbaum.
Authorities have yet to release the identities of the teenagers believed to have fallen through the ice, but Morris County First Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Zelante said the situation was a recovery operation Tuesday morning.
As of 9:50 a.m., the New Jersey State Police have an airboat with divers on the lake to facilitate the recovery mission, Zelante said.
Mount Olive Police Cpl. Eric Anthony said authorities were still trying to confirm whether the boys were under the ice.
“We’re not going to stop until we have confirmation one way or the other,” Anthony said.
Schimanski, who has two daughters as well, said he last saw his son before school on Monday around 5:30 a.m. Schimanski said his son had been warned not to go out on the ice by Lynn O’Brien, who is close with Clyde and his father.
Schmianski said he was told that his son fell through the ice while trying to help another boy out of the water.
“I ain’t leaving here until he comes out,” Schimanski said.
He later added, “This is what God wanted. God works in mysterious ways.”
The family of the other boy was in Budd Lake Chapel Tuesday morning along with a gathering of supporters.
Clyde’s mother, Laurie Halloran, said she had also warned the boys not to go out on the lake.
“The last thing I said to them was don’t go out on the lake,” Halloran said. “It’s not safe.”
O’Brien, who described herself as Clyde’s “stepmother,” said she frequently warned the boys including her son about going on lake ice. She did not warn them last night not to go out on the lake.
“I told them a million times, I told them Friday, don’t go out there (because it’s too dangerous),” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said Clyde is “the best kid” and that she does not want to talk about him in the past tense.
“This is not happening,” she said. “This can’t be happening.”
Schimanski said his son may have gone out on the lake after seeing gliders on the ice last week. Schimanski said he thinks there should be a sign warning people not to go on the ice.
Regarding his son, Schimanski said Clyde loved working on his motorcycle and had been dating a girl for the past three months.
“She’s great,” Schimanski said of his son’s girlfriend. “He was so happy. She’s the kind of girl to straighten him out. She had him talking about going to college and everything.”
Kathleen Sutton, a former neighbor who is still close with Clyde’s dad, said she planned to stay with him tonight.
“I just want people to remember him as who he was, a kid,” Sutton said.
Budd Lake resident Kim Maleyonok said she has known Clyde’s family since before he was born and that Clyde was a “good kid” but he required direction.
“If you steer him on track, he’s a really good kid,” Maleyonok said.
When she heard that Clyde was one of the boys under the ice, Maleyonok said “my heart stopped.”
“He was a sweet, loving kid,” Maleyonok said. “He’d give you if you his last dollar if you needed it.”
On social media, Mount Olive residents began posting condolences last night.
Mount Olive Mayor Rob Greenbaum said on his Facebook page Monday night that it was “likely” that the teenagers lost their lives.
“Once again I am sad to report that we likely lost two young adults in Mount Olive this evening,” Greenbaum said. “May God bless their families and help ease their pain.”
While authorities have not released the boys identities, social media posts on Twitter and Facebook have expressed condolences for the deaths of Schimanski and Nick Ciancotto.
A boy who identifies himself on Twitter as Connor Mullen posted a message that read: “Prayers for Nick Cianciotto and the others who passed away today at Budd Lake. Rest in peace.”
Chris Olson, a freshman at Mount Olive High School, said he is friends with both Clyde and Nick. Olson said Nick is “a funny guy. He loved everybody.”
They and other friends would often go out on the ice over winters, Olson said.
Another friend who was with Olson says Nick spoke with them about ice fishing Monday.
Larrie Reynolds, superintendent of Mount Olive Township Public Schools, said he is “holding out hope that the students are not in the lake.”
Reynolds said the two missing boys are students — a sophomore and a junior — at Mount Olive High School and friends. He added that the boys are not in attendance at school today.
“I’m hoping against hope that they’re out somewhere playing hooky,” he said.
Reynolds said the district has dispatched a crisis management team that includes a dozen counselors available for kids who want to talk at the high school and middle school.
“And we’re hoping that what we’re hearing, the rumor, is not true,” he said.
As reported by NJ.com and The Star-Ledger Monday, William Hardy, 25, was smoking a cigarette with his roommate at their house on the edge of Budd Lake when they heard a few screams for help.
After calling police and getting a flashlight, he went out onto the lake, which had not yet fully frozen over.
With his first step the ice cracked, but solidified as he walked toward what Hardy described as a blue light in a dark expanse and two people screaming for help.
“It was a blue light, maybe a cell phone light, I could see that,” he said in a telephone interview. “I could hear at least two voices talking to me.”
“Please help me, I don’t want to die,” he said they screamed. Hardy shouted back that help was on the way.
He said he walked nearly 700 feet, but the ice began to weaken and crack with each step and he stopped about a hundred feet from the light.
Firefighters had begun to try and break ice to get to where the voices were. The two men dragged an aluminum boat across the ice past him, but at some point, Hardy said, the voices stopped and the light went out.
At least 50 first responders were called to the scene, but most left the area last night.
The Mount Olive Police Department, the Morris County Mobile Command Center, Budd Lake Fire Department and Budd Lake First Aid were on the scene Tuesday morning.
More than 100 feet of ice were cleared during the search, Knapp said.
A State Police helicopter, numerous ice rescue teams and units from the Budd Lake Fire Department and Budd Lake First Aid and Rescue Squad responded to the incident.
At about 8 p.m., three emergency workers in orange suits were seen dragging a gurney across the ice scanning the surface of the ice with flashlights. They returned with an empty gurney.
Greenbaum added that there are no rules about when or where people can be on the lake.
“I can’t even imagine how their parents must feel,” said Christine Stanat, a bartender at the Pavillion Lounge, which overlooks the lake.
In late 2009, a 36-year-old resident of Indian Lake, Steve Savare, died in Denville’s Indian Lake after an endurance competition between friends went wrong. The pair had attempted to swim a distance under ice three-to five-inches thick but had gotten trapped.
When Savare’s 37-year-old friend was seen banging his head against the ice about six feet offshore, onlookers rushed out with a sledgehammer to break through. The man was pulled unresponsive from the water, but later regained consciousness. Savare, who had served in the Marines, was found under the ice 30 yards away, and was pronounced dead at Morristown Memorial Hospital.