MORRISTOWN, NJ - About a dozen reporters from the local press gathered in the Administration and Records Building in Morristown today for a press conference, regarding the two teenagers who lost their lives in Mount Olive this past week.
Nicholas Cianciotto III and Clyde Schimanski III, both 15, good friends, and classmates at Mount Olive High School, lost their lives while ice fishing in the waters of Budd Lake.
“The tragedy struck shortly after 6:00 p.m. on Monday evening,” stated acting prosecutor Fredric Knapp to the press. “Both boys were lost into the frigid lake when the ice gave way at their fishing location.”
Knapp then explained, “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. Mount Olive Township Fire, Police and EMS services personnel immediately raced to the scene, and valiantly attempted to rescue the boys unsuccessfully. As darkness fell late Monday night, local rescue efforts, aided by New Jersey State Police air and ground personnel were forced to cease rescue efforts.”
“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,” said Knapp.
With the help of SONAR, along with other specialized equipment, the New Jersey State Police divers located, and recovered Cianciotto, within hours.
“Their efforts intensified and the divers spent the rest of the day making numerous additional dives attempting to also locate Clyde [Schimanski]. The total effort by the divers on Tuesday lasted over six and a half hours, and eight separate dives were made,
Due to the freezing temperature of the water during each separate recovery effort, two diver team could only remain in the frigid water for approximately 25 minutes, to conduct each search pattern. As night fell, divers had to cease operations at approximately 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
"Recovery efforts by the New Jersey State Police resumed early Wednesday morning. New Jersey State Police divers continued their valiant efforts and were finally able to locate and recover Schimanski at approximately 4:00 p.m. yesterday. During Wednesday’s efforts the New Jersey State Police Marine Service Bureau was on the scene for seven hours and made a total of eight dives,” Knapp explained to the press.
For the couple of days that the efforts had taken place, the Cianciotto and Schimanski families held vigil services both at home and the lake.
“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,” said Knapp.
Knapp then thanked the following people for their efforts: Morris County Prosecutor’s Office and Morris County Sheriff’s Office personnel for their work and the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety for providing the Mobile Command Post and personnel to assist in these efforts during frigid weather. Mount Olive Mayor Rob Greenbaum and Chief Mark Spitzer of the Mount Olive Police Department, Mount Olive, Budd Lake, Flanders, and numerous surrounding communities who have provided Fire, Police and EMS personnel including countless volunteers without reservation. Many have tirelessly maintained 24 hour vigilance at the rescue and recovery site since Tuesday evening.
“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. Their tireless efforts in this tragic event have been outstanding. There would not have been a recovery without their efforts,” said Knapp.
Mount Olive Mayor Rob Greenbaum then spoke to the press.
“As a parent we can all sympathize,” said Greenbaum as he expressed his condolences to the families. "I am grateful to all those on the scene, and the State Police who made it their mission to bring the boys home.”
Greenbaum stated that during his time as mayor, this has been the sixth or seventh tragedy the town had faced.
“This is the largest natural lake in the state of New Jersey with natural springs,” Greenbaum explained. “We are having the municipalities look into putting up signs on the ice for unsafe conditions. This is not something that happens on a daily basis.”
Greenbaum said that, “At this point, we are investigating lake safety. It is an unreguarded natural lake. It comes down to knowing what you are doing out there and there is no way I could ever ensure the residents that it is safe for use whether winter or summer. We are covering all aspects.
Greenbaum has visited the Cianciotto house twice since Cianciotto's body has been recovered.
Fundraisers have been set up for both teenagers via giveforward.com where the Cianciotto fund has so far raised $9,891 with the highest donation being $300 from Kenneth Hendershot. The Schimanski fund raised $12,806, with the highest donation being $500 from an anonymous person.
A wake is being held Friday for Cianciotto, and his funeral will be taking place on Saturday at St. Jude Church.
No information as of funeral arrangements have been scheduled for Schimanski yet.
“The town and community will participate in the funerals as the family allows so,” said Greenbaum.
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