MO Community Offers Support During Tragic Death on Lake
MO Community Offers Support During Tragic Death on Lake
by Cheryl Conway
Two families in Mt. Olive who recently faced a tragic death of one of their own have the community’s embrace during their time of loss.
Monday, Jan. 7, and the days that followed were filled with grief as the families, friends and community at large had to cope with the sudden deaths of Nick Cianciotto III and Clyde Schimanski III. The 15 year-old students of Mt. Olive High School had been ice fishing that evening on Budd Lake at about 6 p.m. when they fell through the ice.
Helicopters flew over the lake for hours, while police and rescue workers searched below for the two bodies, which were recovered by rescue divers over the next two days.
Whether it was the many officials and rescue workers on the scene, the number of students and friends awaiting the recovery of the bodies, food being handed out at the church, funds collected for the funeral, shuttle service to wakes and funerals, the school community wearing blue- the people in Mt. Olive banned together to do what they could to support two grieving families.
“The first night and the second day of the effort showed incredible outpourings from both Township businesses and residents, all trying to find a way to help in some manner,” says Mt. Olive Twp. Mayor Rob Greenbaum.
“The families of the two boys remained at the Budd Lake Chapel, to whom a tremendous thank you is owed for the comfort and shelter which the Pastor and parishioners showed throughout those few days,” Greenbaum adds.
“Ultimately, the two boys were located and brought home over two excruciatingly long days that we all just wanted to end,” he says. “We all grieve with the two families as if we had lost our own children.
“I would like to thank all who did what they could to help and support the two families as well as the first responders,” says Greenbaum. “In particular, I would like to thank the Mt. Olive Police, Fire and EMS for all they did and always do in protecting all of us.”
Councilman Joe Nicastro says, “The loss of life no doubt is something very tragic. Mt. Olive is a very large community from its size but that size never stopped this community from coming together to support and help fellow neighbors in times of need. The clergy, from the different faiths, came together to be there for the families, counseling students, during this time of confusion and grief for so many. People came together, they raised funds for the funerals in a matter of days and that is a testament to Mt. Olive’s residents who always are there to support and help fellow neighbors” during difficult times.
Nicastro says, “It was not a surprise to me seeing the residents and people who went out of their way to help, support or donate. This community, which has suffered too much loss of young lives recently, has always come together to support those families. This last tragedy was no different. The community turned out in large numbers for the services. The residents, officials and students all helped throughout this tragic event in different ways. That is what makes Mt. Olive such a great community. People care about others.”
Losing two from their school community- Cianciotto was a sophomore and Schimanski was a freshman – the Mt. Olive school district also provided support in a number of ways.
The district provided “dozens of hours of counseling to friends of Clyde and Nick who were otherwise lost,” says Mt. Olive Superintendent of Schools Larrie Reynolds. “The value of that is really great; professionals with backgrounds can be really helpful in times of tragedy or emergency,” especially during the last six months with the loss of four other local young individuals to sudden death.
Reynolds says 20 to 25 counselors from the Emergency Crises Team have provided services within the Mt. Olive school district these past couple of weeks. They visited classrooms that the two boys had been in, and have provided emotional support to the siblings of the two boys.
Their main accomplishment has been to “getting kids back to normal and placing this loss in some reasonable perspective,” says Reynolds. “Death is final; it’s a tragic thing. It’s a horrific thing. Children are very resilient though. They can sometimes handle this better than adults.”
In the Mt. Olive Middle School and MOHS, there have been atleast five or six moments of silence, says Reynolds.
“Kids who knew the boys the best had taken to blue and organized ribbons in remembrance,” says Reynolds. Students also wore blue one day at the high school and had a “blue out,” instead of a “white out,” at one of the home basketball games recently.
Some students have been gathering in the lobby for two or three days to talk about the two boys, and there may be even other ideas being planned through social channels to honor the two boys, says Reynolds.
The transportation department of Mt. Olive school district also provided transportation support to visitations and funeral services for both boys. Four shuttle busses were provided from Turkey Brook Park to Cianciotto’s visitation service on Friday night, Jan. 11, at St. Jude Roman Catholic Parish in Budd Lake; and his funeral on Saturday, Jan. 12 at the parish. Interment followed at King Cemetery in Franklin Lakes.
Transportation services were also provided through the Mt. Olive school district for Schimanski’s funeral held Sunday, Jan. 13, at the Davis & Hepplewhite Funeral Home in Succasunna.
According to published reports, more than $28,000 had been raised by Jan. 11 through online fundraisers, and a fund was also established through PNC Bank- the “Nick Cianciotto Memorial Fund” to help offset funeral costs to the families.
“I’m satisfied that people are doing to help out their best during a difficult situation,” says Reynolds. “People are very caring in this situation. Everyone wants to be of help; people have sincerity. I admire the generosity to give to one another and show the general concern to not only the boys but the families too. It’s nice to live in a community like that.”
Reynolds concludes, “It’s just such a sad situation when young people are cut down so early in their lives. It’s a shame when young people don’t get to live out their dreams and do the things they aspire to do. It makes me think it is so wonderful to live our lives. We should all be grateful for the opportunity that we have had.”
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