Cops: Recovery Effort Called Off Late, But Will Resume Early Tuesday Morning

MOUNT OLIVE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Crews spent hours searching the waters of Budd Lake in Morris County on Monday night, but were unable to find two teenage boys who went missing after falling through the ice.

The search was called off until Tuesday morning at the lake, which is about 48 miles northwest of New York City, near the Pennsylvania line.

The boys went about 200 yards out onto the lake, walking on ice that appeared to be safe and secure as recently as Sunday, police said.

The last task rescuers accomplished Monday night was breaking up 100 feet of ice in an attempt to find the two missing boys.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, police said they received calls of people in the water screaming for help at 6:19 p.m. Two nearby residents also heard calls for help and got into a boat to help the two teenage boys, who were in the water.

Initially, police said four people were missing, but only the two teens were actually missing – the other two initially reported missing were the attempted rescuers, who returned safely in the boat.

The search was considered a recovery effort late Monday night.

Neighbors said both the boys attend Mount Olive High School. Earlier reports indicated that they were both 14 years old.

Fire crews spent more than three hours searching the lake, Young reported. Divers had donned dry suits and were set to go down for a rescue operation.

A helicopter was also sent to the scene to shine light on the operation.

As 1010 WINS’ Gary Baumgarten reported, the sound of a helicopter with its searchlight illuminating the lake was to the relatives of the two missing boys a sound of hope. But shortly before 10 p.m., the chopper left, and so did most of the rescue crews.

“We called specially trained teams from about seven different area towns. Boats and divers were deployed,” said Acting Morris County Prosecutor Fred Knapp. “So far, we’ve been unable to find anyone at this time.”

“It’s horrible. It’s absolutely horrible,” one woman said. “I mean, we’ve got a teenage daughter. I can’t even imagine being out there with your kids, or if it’s just teenagers, worrying about your children.”

“It’s horrible. They’re kids,” another woman said tearfully. “It’s horrible.”

Residents said the lake was frozen enough over the weekend to accommodate crowds of people.

“Oh, it’s fine. It was frozen. They were ice sailing and everything yesterday,” said Semna Ferrara. “(But today) it’s much warmer.”

Mount Olive Mayor Robert Greenbaum said he believes the boys were ice fishing.

“It’s not something which is guarded in any way,” Greenbaum said. “It is a natural lake, and people use the facility, the lake, to do fishing or whatever is appropriate during the season, and I can tell you that that’s probably what happened today.”

The search was set to resume at daybreak Tuesday.

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