An ice fisherman from Herkimer drowned after falling through ice over Canadarago Lake in the town of Otsego on Tuesday, state police at Sidney said.
About 25 to 30 firefighters, first-responders, troopers and other crews responded to the 911 call late Tuesday afternoon with a boat and Hovercraft for a rescue.
But Leonty Kukharchuk, 68, died at Bassett Medical Center at about 8 p.m., Sgt. Joseph Auberger of state police at Sidney said. Otsego County Coroner James Dow ruled the death a drowning, Auberger said.
A resident on Bibck Road of off county Route 22 called 911 at about 5:30 p.m. after he saw that Kukharchuk had fallen through the ice and was calling for help, Auberger said.
Crews from the Richfield Springs, Schuyler Lake and Milford fire and emergency departments responded.
Lori Earp, assistant captain of the Schuyler Lake emergency squad, said the man was about 500 feet from the shore. Three men in a Richfield Springs fire department boat used oars and a board to break through the ice to reach the victim, she said. The man had been talking to rescuers until they were about six feet from him, she said, and then he went under the water.
Crews in the boat pulled him from the water, Earp said, and they started cardiopulmonary resuscitation immediately because he was unresponsive.
Meanwhile, the Hovercraft from the Milford Fire Department had skirted toward the boat to assist. Third Assistant Chief Don Eckler and crews by the lakeside pulled ropes tied to the boat to bring it back to shore.
The victim was put into a Richfield Springs ambulance and taken to Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown.
Besides crews from the three fire departments, representatives from state police and the state Department of Environmental Conservation were at the scene, officials said. Auberger said an emergency helicopter was called but wasn't needed when a decision was made to transport Kukharchuk by ambulance.
Gale Kimsey, captain of the Schuyler Lake first-responders squad, said ice-rescue calls aren't too unusual. Some ice fishermen "aren't using their heads" when they walk onto ice that is turning blue.
"You know that it's about to break up, and it's not safe to walk on," Kimsey said.
A year or two ago, four or five fishermen were in the same area as the victim on Tuesday, and they fell into the lake, Kimsey said. The water in that area is about 4½ feet, he said, and they were able to get themselves out of the lake.
However, the victim Tuesday was in the water so long that he was affected by hypothermia, Kimsey said.