BLEECKER – A Fulton County father of a 2-month-old son and volunteer coach at Fulton-Montgomery Community College died Thursday night after his snowmobile broke through the ice on Peck Lake, Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino said Friday.
Giardino identified the snowmobiler as Todd Wheaton, who was in his early 40s.
Divers recovered Wheaton’s body at about 5 a.m. Friday morning, Giardino said.
Wheaton was a volunteer assistant coach for the FMCC men’s basketball team and FMCC graduate, the college said. A GoFundMe page, which quickly amassed more than $19,000 in donations, described Wheaton as “an amazing husband, father, son, friend and so much more.”
The incident happened before 9 p.m. Thursday as three friends were snowmobiling on the lake, Giardino said.
Ice on the lake was generally about 11 inches thick, but the snowmobilers approached a stream with running and even open water. They spotted it, but not in time to prevent two of the snowmobiles from breaking through, Giardino said.
The third snowmobiler was able to help one snowmobiler out. The two then attempted to help Wheaton out, but the ice kept breaking as they moved toward him, Giardino said.
The two ultimately went for help, Giardino said.
Fire departments, EMS and the Department of Environmental Conservation all responded. They found both sleds and gear.
The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department dive team found Wheaton’s body Friday morning.
The GoFundMe page for Wheaton raised the $19,000 over its first six hours from 233 donations.
“There are just not enough words to explain how much he was loved and the pain his wife and family are going through at this time,” the posting read.
The fundraiser is to help with funeral bills and the child’s college and future, the posting reads.
FMCC President Gregory Truckenmiller released a statement indicating resources are available to the campus community to assist students and staff.
“Our entire campus community sends our thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of Todd Wheaton,” the statement read.
Giardino recommended that all snowmobilers stay off the county’s lakes due to thin ice and open water.
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