Berkeley Heights Firefighters and public safety responders from surrounding towns rushed to the Passaic River on Saturday night to rescue a man and woman who had fallen through the ice.
The couple was reportedly searching for turtles near the banks of the river. Berkeley Heights Fire Battalion Chief Jim Hopkins said that they were walking on ice near the shore when they fell into the frigid water.
The woman who fell into the river was able to use her cell phone to call 911 at 8:18 p.m. When Berkeley Heights Fire and Police units arrived they were unable to initially find the two victims.
Berkeley Heights Fire Dept. Rescue Company 1 found the couple west of Summit Ave at the former Berkeley Chemical Site on the Long Hill Township side of the Passaic River clinging to a tree suffering from the effects of hypothermia.
Members of the Berkeley Heights Fire Department, Long Hill Police and Chatham Township Police Departments tried to reach the victims on foot from the north side of the river, but could not reach them because of flooding conditions and difficult terrain.
The water rescue unit from New Providence Fire Department reached the victims and rescued them and brought them to the south side of the river for treatment from the Berkeley Heights Rescue Squad. They were transported to Morristown Hospital for exposure. It is estimated that the victims spent a total of an hour in the water.
Four Firefighters were treated at the scene for cuts and exposure to the water. Union County Fire Mutual Aid sent an Engine from Summit and Plainfield and Warren sent a Tower Ladder to cover the township in the event of another emergency. Long Hill First Aid Squad sent an ambulance to the scene.