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Man Falls Through Ice, Dies While Playing Hockey With Son

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Patrick Rorig, 47, died after falling through the ice on a Johnsburg, Ill. pond. (handout/CBS)

Patrick Rorig, 47, died after falling through the ice on a Johnsburg, Ill. pond. (handout/CBS)

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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.

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