MOUNT OLIVE, NJ - “The State Police have suspended their recovery efforts tonight,” said Corporal Eric Anthony, Public Information Officer for the Mount Olive Police Department.
This, after a long ordeal yesterday and today, when the Mount Olive Police Department first received a 9-1-1 call, of parties having fallen through the icy waters of the municipality’s Budd Lake.
Originally reports swirled of the victims having been two adults, and three children, which was later revised as a pair of teens, who locals have identified as Clyde Schimanski, age 15, and Nick Cianciotto, age 14.
Anthony told The Alternative Press at approximately at 5 p.m. this evening the divers had been there around six-and-a-half hours, made six dives during the day, and were on the lake’s bottom for two-and-a-half hours.
Although authorities have kept mum about which boy was found today, some locals have said it was Cianciotto who was found.
Diane Gerber, a resident who lived nearby, said she watched this past Sunday when locals enjoyed the lake, as ice sailboats coasted across, and youth played ice hockey.
“It was amazing,” she said.
Gerber said she works at the nearby Budd Lake Diner, and did not know about the tragedy until the search was underway for the boys last night, and, the diner brought coffees to the scene to the rescue workers. She said earlier in the evening, she had been sleeping, and “thought there was an earthquake,” because of the tremendous vibrations from the rescue helicopters passing over.
Gerber said she knows Schimanski’s father, also named Clyde, and described him as “a friend to everyone in Budd Lake.”
“Everyone knows Clyde,” she said.
Gerber also said it has been a very difficult few years for Mount Olive High School students, who had classmates die in auto accidents on Sandshore Road, and Wolfe Road, in Budd Lake.
As the search units departed for the night, and the pink sunset shone over the lake, students from Mount Olive Ice School began to gather outside of the Budd Lake Chapel across from the lake, where the Pastor Alan Pirello, has spent the day comforting families, and providing outreach. He spoke to the media outside of the church, as the youth gathered and created a memorial on the church’s front lawn, with balloons, candles, stuffed animals, flowers, photos, and letters. Students hugged one another, prayed, and wept.
Pirello said about speaking to Schimanski’s father, “I’ve spoken to Clyde. It’s a very distressing time. You need to give them [families] space as well. He [Clyde] was very appreciative. He was very emotional. It was heart wrenching. The whole town is grieving. We’re praying to bring closure to the family.”
Pirello praised the efforts of the members of the police and fire departments.
“They did a great job,” Pirello said. “Hopefully tomorrow we’ll find the other boy. You’ve got to pray, especially for the families.”
Although Pirello recognized there was closure for the one family who received the news today, he also said, “Their son is gone, it’s final.”
“The first order of business is the families,” added Pirello, when asked about any fundraising for the families, which some locals have also said efforts have begun.
In the meantime, remembrances have already started for the two boys on Facebook. Click here for a remembrance page just created.
Click here for Schimanski’s page.
Click here for the fundraiser page for the family of Clyde Schimanski.
Pirelli said he was unaware of fundraising efforts underway, and suggested spearheading one with the township, and local pastors.
Scimanski's and Cianciotto's friends remembered the boys, including one friend, who did not want to be named.
He described Schimanski as “a kid who loved to have fun.”
“I love Nick with all my heart, and I love Clyde with all my heart,” he said.
Shelby LaBar, Schimanski’s girlfriend who is pictured with him on Facebook, as well as a photo placed at the memorial, was also at the vigil in front of the church.
“He was amazing,” LaBar said. “I would tell him all the time. We were inseparable.”
LaBar said she was with Schimanski in school yesterday, and they had texted afterward. He had contacted her yesterday to go with him on the lake yesterday, she said, and LaBar’s mother would not allow it, because she felt it was not safe to go out onto the ice.
Budd Lake is reportedly New Jersey's largest natural lake at slightly over a half a square mile, and is estimated at seven to 12 feet in depth.
The Alternative Press will continue to report on this story as it develops.
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