Just one week after Bloomingdale officials postponed action on an ordinance to formally prohibit ice skating and sledding on borough ponds, a man fell through the ice of private Lake Iosco in the borough Tuesday, ultimately to his death.
Frank Ferrell, a 52-year-old Ringwood man, died Tuesday at Chilton Hospital after emergency responders pulled him from the lake where he had gone ice fishing and was fully submerged for more than 10 minutes. Also rescued was Theodore Andreniuk, 49, of West Milford, who was transported to the hospital in critical condition.
While the prohibition ordinance would not have affected Lake Iosco or other lakes situated in private communities in the borough, discussion on the topic was inspired by a similar event last month in which two Mount Olive teens slipped through the ice of Budd Lake, their bodies recovered by divers. They, too, were ice fishing.
Hours after Ferrell and Andreniuk were both rescued from the lake Tuesday, Bloomingdale Mayor Jonathan Dunleavy sat in on a press debriefing by Police Chief Joseph Borell and Fire Chief Mike Hudson. Although Dunleavy reiterated that Tuesday's incidents were unrelated to prohibition on public ponds, he emphasized the importance of the issue.
"It has to be something discussed and understood," Dunleavy said.
At the Feb. 19 meeting in which the prohibition ordinance was tabled, Dunleavy explained that the issue had arisen based on recommendations by the borough insurance company. Since the ponds are not monitored by police, the prohibition could simply mean signs being placed at the ponds asking residents to keep off or to enter at their own risk. The borough does not have jurisdiction over the private lakes and Dunleavy said he was unsure what Lake Iosco's ice activity policies were. In Morse Lakes, where Dunleavy lives, he said residents are advised to enter at their own risk.
The mayor also said on Feb. 19, after hearing several residents speak against any form of prohibition of ice activities on public ponds, that the council would reconsider the ordinance after a depth analysis could be done on each pond, Bogue Pond and Oakwood Lake, to help determine how dangerous falling through ice on them could be.
"That will be a spring issue," the mayor said Tuesday.
Dunleavy said the borough must wait until the spring to appropriately conduct such tests, despite the local ice event. In the meantime, the mayor said he is hopeful that something can be done to educate the public about the dangers of entering the ice and "at the very least, post signs."