TOMS RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New Jersey state police say the driver of a pickup truck who went onto a frozen river, spun around repeatedly and then plunged through the ice with his dog inside has been charged with criminal mischief.
Andrew Mayer also may face animal cruelty charges because his 2-year-old boxer mix was found dead after the truck sank Sunday in Toms River.
Authorities said another man got out of the truck just before Mayer took it onto the ice and won’t face charges. Neither man was injured.
The witness said the truck began spinning around in circles after reaching the center of the river. Investigators said Mayer had been joyriding on the ice.
A Coast Guard helicopter crew responded and a rescue swimmer was lowered down. Divers found the truck in the water hours later.
Mayer’s neighbors said the dog used to greet them happily and died needlessly.
“It’s sad that the dog didn’t make it,” said neighbor Sarah Stern. “You’re taking that risk to go out on the ice.”
Mayer doesn’t have a listed phone number and can’t be reached for comment. His friends and relatives said he loved the dog and tried to save it.
“The water was up to his chest and he tried to get his dog out but was unable to,” said Sgt. Gregory Williams, with New Jersey State Police.
Meanwhile, police in Seaside Heights have launched an internal investigation of one of their own over Facebook comments that appear to be about the dog’s death.
Seaside Heights Police Detective Steve Korman tells the Asbury Park Press that Sgt. Thomas Yannacone was off-duty when the posts were made.
One of the posts said: “Truck plunging thru the ice with a dog inside brings a whole new meaning to FROZEN WEINER or DIRTY WATER DOG—What, to soon, calm down u animal loving freaks—”
Yannacone will remain working during the investigation.
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