Man Falls Through Ice, Dies While Playing Hockey With Son

UPDATED 02/20/12 3:30 p.m.

JOHNSBURG, Ill. (CBS) — After a tragic accident, McHenry County fire officials are warning about the dangers of going out on the ice in this abnormally mild winter.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, a 47-year-old Johnsburg man and his son were playing hockey on what they thought was a frozen retention pond behind their home in the 3700 block of Windmere Lane around 6:15 p.m. Sunday. But with the mild weather, the ice cracked, and the man disappeared through a hole that formed.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Firefighters from more a dozen departments rushed to the scene, but the man, Patrick Rorig, had been underwater for more than half an hour before crews found him and pulled him out.

Rorig died after being airlifted to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. His teenage son was not injured.

Longtime friend Thomas Popovich described Rorig as a gifted home builder and dedicated father to three sons, who ranged in age from 14 to 22. His nickname was “Rocco.”

“He was true to his nickname – he was a rock. Everybody loved him, everybody knew they could count on him at any time, any place.  Anybody had any problems, Rocco would be there for them,” Popovich told CBS 2.

The latest incident comes only a few weeks after another man fell through the ice and died in Johnsburg.

Justin Ribar, 29, of Wonder Lake, was ice fishing on Pistakee Lake in the Chain O’Lakes on Feb. 3, when he fell through the ice.

People on shore heard his cries for help, spotted his ice fishing gear, but he was trapped underneath the ice. His body wasn’t recovered until the following morning.

Johnsburg Deputy Fire Chief Rudy Horist says the accident underscores the danger in this mild winter of assuming that any body of water is frozen solid.

“In some sections of a pond or of a lake, the ice may be thick enough to support someone,” Horist said. “But mixed in with that are several areas of ice that are deceiving; may look solid, but in actuality, it may be very thin.”

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • al gore

    Where are the kooks from cook county that will cry Global Warming as the reason for this

    • 94107

      Climate change is climate change, and an accident is an accident. Both are real. Both are tragic. But there’s no reason to conflate the two on this discussion board, is there?

  • Dear Algore and Eross

    Seriously? How about you just show some sympathy for this family. Unbelievable. Way to turn this political. What’s worse, a kook who cries “Global Warming!” or a jerk who cries “Liberalism!”?

    Our prayers go out to the family of this poor guy and his son.

  • Skipper

    Why is this a headline story?… scores of people die every day due to all sorts of accidents and no mention of them is made. Notice they aren’t running a story telling about all the lives that have been saved on the hightway this year due to lack of snow/ice.

    Do you see how the media can steer the unwary/uneducated into any desired direction by writing stories like this?

    • Jeff

      You followed a link. You read it. You commented.

      But it’s not newsworthy?

    • Caring Person

      How cold-hearted can you be??

  • me

    What I want to know is why one would KNOWINGLY go out on a “frozen” pond if the temps were in the 40s? Where is common sense? It is sad though.

  • Bobby Dull

    Frozen and 40º are not in the same universe.


  • Y2KV Boogliodemus

    The moral of this story: Quit trying to act like a Canadian. Hockey is a dumb sport. Canadians have nothing to contribute to Western Civilization other than a few comedians and of course “ANVIL”!!!

    • THEE Yard Ape

      I saw anvil on their first tour here in ’84. Exciter was a much better band, and you’re an @ ss hole! METAL & HOCKEY fan here!!!!

    • Art Granda

      Hockey is the -only- sport, bud. Non-serious athletes need not apply. Yeah, you won’t see some fat, donut-belly millionaires sitting on a heated bench, who only run for 4 seconds out of every minute -if- they even happen to be on the field at all. Hockey is the -only- sport to require two different special disciplines to be effective, skating and puck handling/passing/shooting …. suck at either one and you won’t go far.

  • Erik

    Have mercy and compassion for the victims in this horrendous tragedy. Trust me when I say, friends and family do read these posts and it does hurt.

  • FYI

    Sad. I know a number of people who ice fish in the winter. One of them told me he has fallen in the lake a couple of times, because as the ice is melting the fish get active and fishing is good. He now wears a lifejacket all the time on the ice. He also said, if you ever fall in to look for a dark spot, as that is usually the hole in the ice.

  • Art Granda

    People must understand that the pressure underneath the contact patch of your hockey blade can be 7 or 8 times the skater’s weight in PSI. Even if you walk out onto the lake in your boots, and it seems pretty solid, than does not mean the ice will be able to support your weight in skates, even if not moving at all. Factor in a swift hockey stop and you may be generating 12 – 15 times your weight in pressure. Lake ice is nothing to experiment with, do your homework, drill a tiny hole and get some idea of how thick it is before you skate on it.

  • chopper

    My sympathy and condolences to the Rorig family.

  • Bob Bleck

    Detention ponds are inherently more dangerous than a regular pond. They have intake and release ports as part of their design to regulate flood water. As a result the intake water which is relatively warm (much of it comes from house sump pumps) it thins the ice at that point. There being a drain causes voids under the ice which further creates weak spots. When ice is in contact with the water the buoyancy effect supports the ice. When there are voids it is unsupported and more prone to cracking. The old methods of checking the thickness of ponds before using do not apply to detention ponds. The ice is very inconsistent.

  • been banned

    I skate on lakes, ponds, rivers, wherever water is frozen during the winter. I have not skated once this year on any of those bodies of water. A few times on frozen outside rinks and tennis courts that have been flooded, but this year has been the worst for outside skating in recent memory. That aside, I have a technical question…they say Mr. Roring was found in 5 feet of water–if he’s near 6 feet, why, when you fall under cracked ice can you not simply pop up, or push yourself back up? Does something happen when you fall into ice, that the hole you fell in is suddenly not there–and thus the thrashing around under unbroken ice, robbing you of air while you search for the opening you fell in? Guess I dont get the 5 feet depth part and inability to just push yourself up back through the open hold?


  • me

    In reading my previous post, I think it may have been too harsh. My condolences go out to the family. Very sorry for your loss.

  • MWM

    Most likely when the cold water hit his body he started gasping and freaked out and lost his head and was not thinking clearly.

  • HPS

    this man might be the best person in the world but WHAT THE HECK WAS HE THINKING??? I live not far and WHO in their right mind would think the ice was solid enough to even WALK on yet alone play hockey on.. WAS this man drunk? I am sorry for the families loss but this man had no common sense and put his son at risk.. he should have know better..

    • Erik

      Again, I will SAY – the friends and family of this tragedy are reading your posts. Think about the pain they are already suffering and keep your snide, coarse, rude comments to yourselves. If you can offer condolences than don’t post anything at all. I speak from experience…

  • Centurion

    Stupdity =Tragedy. Hey, lets go skate on thin ice in 45 degree weather…WHAT DYA THINK?

    I have no sympathy for stupid people!

  • poorhardworker

    It is appalling at how many insensitive ways people can say that there was a serious error in judgement made…and his family will bear the anguish and burden for the rest of their lives. Although you are all “smarter” than the father…remember, we all make mistakes. Some are just more costly than others. My thoughts are with the family.

  • SH

    Death is simply moving us from one sphere of life to another–from temporal life to eternal life. Patrick is walking with Jesus as we speak. Some of these remarks hurt my heart. There are so many lost souls that haven’t found Christ. All you have to do is ask and listen.

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    […] incident came on the heels of a Sunday tragedy. A 47-year-old Johnsburg father died after he fell into an icy pond while playing hockey with his son. Share this 8 comments […]

  • jack

    Condolences to this man’s family- especially his son who had to watch his father drown. May his soul rest in peace.

  • Ryan

    Why am I reading these comments? I don’t know. A lot of insensitive people here. I want the family to know that prayers are coming your way from Florida. I used to skate on ponds near my house up north and im sure i risked it more than once. So sorry for your loss. God bless and keep this family.

  • Tommy j

    God bless you Rocco. You, you family and friends are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • Man Falls Through Ice, Dies While Playing Hockey With Son « Retch's Disturbing News!

    […] Read Full Article Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Tags: danger, disturbing news, Firefighters, frozen retention pond, hockey, ice, ice cracked, ice hockey, Il, Illinois, JOHNSBURG, man disappeared through a hole, Patrick Rorig, son, tragic accident Comments RSS feed […]

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