More Details about Worker's Fall Through Lake Ice from Village Administrator

The Tarrytown Police department referred me to Village Administrator Mike Blau for more details on the recreation department worker's fall through the ice on his tractor Thursday morning. 

Read the original post and see video here.

Blau clarified the timeline and what led up to it, who responded and how.

The ice, he said, had been tested in eight different locations where rec department workers measured six inch ice depth in each spot. 

Four inches is considered sufficient for skating, so the worker was there Thursday morning to start plowing the snow with a small tractor. The tractor, said Blau, has been used for this purpose on previous occasions with no issue.

On Thursday at 10:15 a.m., the worker began clearing the snow leaving a trail of ice behind him traversing the lake. At 10:50 a.m, he and his vehicle had fallen in. 

According to a witness I spoke with at the scene who saw the worker before he fell in and during the rescue, the worker was sitting still in that spot for a few minutes before he went down. He also said the two department men on the shore, one who made the 911 call, helped get their coworker to safety. But the official report reads differently. 

From Blau:

The Village staff member was able to pull himself out of the lake and he laid down on the ice.  Members from the Town of Greenburgh Police Department that operate their ambulance (EMS) wrapped the Village staff member in blankets and removed him from the ice via a sled designed for ice rescue purposes.  The staff member was then taken to the skate shack where the staff members vital signs were checked and he was thereafter transported to the Westchester Medical Center.  

Among the responders, were according to the police report, seven police officers, Greenburgh EMS and Sleepy Hollow Volunteer Ambulance Corps since Tarrytown ambulance was out on another call. The department heads were there from the Recreation and Parks Department and the Department of Public Works.

Greenburgh Police Chief Chris McNerney had a slightly different perspective on the rescue, saying the man actually walked off the ice himself. In his report to Supervisor Paul Feiner he wrote of his department's technical rescue team's assistance:

The tractor and the operator were submerged in the frigid water. Upon our arrival, the operator was attempting to get out of the water. The tractor fell through the ice approximately 250 feet from the shore, and the operator was walking to shore when we arrived. He was in the water approximately 10 minutes. Our team stabilized the vehicle in the water the ice and directed the recovery of the tractor from the water without further incident. Tarrytown FD personnel and Stiloski’s heavy duty tow truck/wrecker assisted.

Ten minutes in water on such a frigid day is a long time. However, the worker, who Blau said, "was alert and verbal the entire time," was home by 2:15 p.m. after the hospital took measures to warm him up and treated him for hypothermia.

A friend of his confirmed he was shaken up, "a little beat up," but would be fine. 

There are many who are eager to skate the lakes but the springs in pockets may make this tricky.

"They [the workers] are aware that there are underground springs," Blau said. "The location where the incident occurred is a location where we have never experienced a problem with the ice." 

The springs have always fed the lake and are blocked off when the lake is ready for skating. 

Blau said there's been no issue of someone falling through the ice in the 14 years he's worked for the village.

However, Bill Dugan recalled on Facebook the same sort of incident over 20 years ago. "Years ago a employee went in with the plow when the ice wasn't strong enough they will not let that happen again," he said. 

Last year, a dog owner caught some flack for sliding out onto the lake ice in his kayak to rescue his puggle, Jack Bauer, who had fallen through. 

And there were many incidents of students getting kicked off and fined $100 each when the ice had not been sanctioned as safe enough.

"The question to be assessed include whether there are new springs impacting upon the lake and are the springs creating an unsafe condition for ice skating purposes," Blau said. 

Krista Madsen January 24, 2014 at 01:26 PM
Yes, it's nice to know they certainly don't take it lightly about when it's appropriate to let people skate. Strangely, yesterday was the day for this. There were THREE incidents in CT, involving four people falling through ice.
Mike January 25, 2014 at 11:32 AM
He was carried off the ice in a stokes basket by rescue personell.
Krista Madsen January 25, 2014 at 11:36 AM
Thanks for letting us know Mike. All kinds of version of his escape for some reason, but the outcome all good regardless. (I would have never known it's called a stokes basket, so thanks for that too!)>
engine77chief January 25, 2014 at 12:41 PM
Why did they not use a snowblower? +1000 pounds lighter. They should have had a proper rescue team on site before the attempt. Next time(if there is one) purchase a mustang survival suite. Under $750.00.
Mike January 25, 2014 at 03:23 PM
In addition to the Greenburgh EMS worker it was members of the tarrytown PD, DPW,& FD that dragged the basket to shore and then up the stairs


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