Man’s body recovered from frozen bog reservoir

Feb 22, 2021

The middle-aged man who died after entering the water at a frozen-over bog reservoir on Feb. 21 was there for a swim, according to officials. His body was recovered at about 12:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 by members of the Wareham Fire Department and the Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team.

“So obviously this was not the outcome that we were looking for, but we did recover the body of the man who had jumped in the water,” said Wareham Police Chief John Walcek.

The man willingly entered the water at about 4:30 p.m. for a swim after making a hole in the ice -- a regular activity for him, officials say. The reservoir was covered with a sheet of ice and snow.

“He didn’t fall through the ice, he actually planned on swimming in the water,” said Officer John Gerard of the Wareham Police Department. “Apparently, this gentleman liked to swim in cold water.” 

Two friends were nearby, and when the man did not resurface, they called for help. Police arrived within seven minutes. 

It is unclear whether the swimmer was tied to a rope or anything that would assist in his rescue if he ran into trouble. 

The man’s name has not been released, although his next-of-kin has been notified.

“No ice is safe ice,” said Patrick Haskell, the assistant chief for the Wareham Fire Department. “If you really feel the need to be on the ice to go skating or whatever, go to your local rink.”

As the search continued on Feb. 21, crews from Plymouth County Mutual Aid arrived, including the Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team, and crews from Whitman, Duxbury, Marshfield, and Abington.

Searches by dive teams and with sonar looked for the man until about 11 p.m., according to the Department of Natural Resources, before returning early in the morning of Feb. 22. to continue their search for the man’s body.

Today, in addition to searchers, officials were using underwater sonar and a submersible device with a camera to look for the man’s body.

The conditions have made the search difficult, officials said.

“It’s a murky bog,” said Haskell. “A lot of tree stumps and other debris under there that we’re dealing with, along with 5 inch ice cover.”

The reservoir is about an acre and a half in size and ranges in depth from 4 to 10 feet.

“I guess basically what he does is he goes in there swimming, just about every day. He cuts two holes in the pond and just swims back and forth, from what I understand,” said Michael Miranda, who lives near the reservoir. He said he’d heard about the man from neighbors. “I don’t know where he’s from, I don’t know if he’s from this area, but I guess he’s been doing that for awhile.”

Miranda said that the reservoir is far from neighboring homes.

“If he was in trouble or anything, you wouldn’t even be able to know, it’s so far back there. It’s surrounded by bogs,” Miranda said. “It’s pretty secluded back there.”