Steve DiGioia

Ice Fishing on Thin Ice: A Tragedy for Two Brothers at N.Y. State Park Pond

Two brothers from Upstate New York met a tragic accident while ice fishing.

The two brothers from Richfield Springs went ice fishing on Basswood Pond in Burlington when they both fell into the cold water, killing one. 

According to a news release by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation, the two were seen falling through the ice by a man walking his dog on Jan 6 who then called 911.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation called the ice rescue a dangerous one.

The Rescue

The video of the rescue was posted by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Forest Ranger Nate Laymon saw one of the two men struggling to get out but lost sight of the other one. He was near the Jacobs Road trailhead which was at one minute distance from the pond. As a response, he immediately changed into his wet suit and entered the ice while he crawled his way to the 42-year-old man. 

He used a throw bag to help the man climb out while the subject grabbed the rope and the ranger along with the man who called for help pulled him out of the water.

The ranger had pulled the sledge to shore where they were helped by the emergency responder firefighters who arrived on the scene ten minutes ago. The man, suffering from hypothermia, was treated by the firefighters from Edmeston.

The ranger went back to rescue his 41-year-old brother along with a State Police diver and firefighters.

He dived into the water in search of the subject but was unable to save the drowned man spotted at seven to eight feet below. They both were pulled out by the emergency responders to the shore. EMTs gave the drowned man CPR but he could not be saved.

The two brothers were taken to Bassett Hospital Cooperstown. The 42-year-old was saved and released but unfortunately, the 41-year-old was announced as dead on the same night.

According to the department’s statement, the ice was only about one inch thick and “unsafe for fishing,” but the brothers did not have any knowledge about it.

The DEC did not reveal the identity of the brothers.

Guidelines by the authority

The DEC on Thursday released guidelines on their website in a section about safety while ice fishing about a minimum of three to four-inch solid ice needed for safety. They said that ice thickness kept on varying which further needed periodical checks. 

The officials have urged the people to stay cautious and check for the thickness of the ice before any ice activity and to not fish alone.

Considering the changing scenario in the environment, 2023 was recorded as the warmest year on earth, which leads to even two to three inches of ice unsafe for any activity. 

A minimum of four inches is considered safe which might keep on varying and so it becomes all the more important to be cautious while going for fishing or any other ice activity.


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