Responders unable to reach scene in time for rescue
Posted by the Asbury Park Press on 12/26/05
BY ALESHA WILLIAMS
UPPER FREEHOLD — Emergency responders were unable to save a hunting
dog from its death in Stone Tavern Lake on Saturday.
The 45-pound Brittany spaniel belonged to a hunter at Assunpink
Wildlife Management Area, where the lake is located, according to
"The dog was helping him hunt, going after a bird," Trooper Eric
Gumina said. "(The dog) followed the bird out onto the ice. The middle
of the lake was thawed out about 20 feet in, and the dog fell in."
The hunter, a 35-year-old Jackson man, alerted State Police and
Hope Fire Company of Allentown at 12:15 p.m. Hope firefighters were
the first to the scene at 12:33 p.m.
By then, the dog already was floating on the surface of the water,
Hope Fire Deputy Chief Don Swaysland said.
"The dog had been in the water at least 18 minutes," Swaysland
said. "I'm sure he just got tired and hypothermic and probably passed
away from hypothermia first rather than drowning."
State Trooper William Carvounis said the response was hindered
because the caller was unsure of his own location. The lake is about a
quarter-mile north from County Road 524, Carvounis said.
"We were all in a frantic rush going through Assunpink trying to
find where they might have been," Carvounis said.
Carvounis also said responders need to have a better working
knowledge of the refuge, which is popular for pheasant hunting.
"We're pretty good with knowing the area, but there's a lot of
little dirt trails and things, and we don't know where they go,"
He said he will be working with park rangers to draft clear maps to
help emergency responders navigate the site.
"(The troopers who responded) are all dog owners so I think it's
more of an emotional loss," Carvounis said. "The dog didn't know what
it was doing, then it was scared trying to get back on land, so you
feel pretty bad about it. Despite everything we see, this definitely
Alesha Williams: (732) 308-7756 or