Authorities Identify Man Found Dead Under Ice in Wareham Reservoir

Police and fire officials said the body of 44-year-old Thomas Bartholomew was recovered around 12:45 p.m. Monday along the shoreline under a thick layer of ice, concluding a search that first started around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Authorities have identified the man whose body they recovered from an icy reservoir in Wareham, Massachusetts, after a search that spanned two days.

Thomas Bartholomew, 44, of Wareham, was declared dead Monday after his body was recovered from the water around 12:45 p.m., according to Plymouth Country District Attorney Timothy Cruz.



Watch NBC10 Boston news for free, 24/7, wherever you are.


Get Boston local news, weather forecasts, lifestyle and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Boston’s newsletters.

The search for Bartholomew began around 4:30 p.m. Sunday when Wareham police responded to a 911 call for a report of a man who had possibly drowned in a pond behind 786 County Road -- the location of a reservoir and cranberry bog.

Wareham police and fire were unsuccessful in their attempts to locate the man, so additional assistance was requested including the Wareham Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Police.

The Plymouth County Technical Rescue Team (PCTRT) was also activated and multiple departments and members of PCTRT responded to the scene, including the regional dive team.

Emergency personnel performed search operations in difficult conditions until 11:45 p.m. Sunday when the search was postponed due to time and weather conditions.

"The water is murky. Stumps, trees and other objects are in there, so there's a lot of hazards they're trying to get around," Wareham Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Haskell said. "Plus there's ice -- trying to get ice moved around under the ice using divers, sonar."

Prior to suspending the search, officials said it had been deemed a recovery operation -- no longer a water rescue. The deputy fire chief in Wareham said the man's family had been notified Sunday.

Until the search was suspended for the night, the scene remained very active with divers continuing to search the water as low temperatures in the region were forecast to drop into the 20s before rain and snow moved into parts of New England on Monday.

Some emergency personnel remained on scene overnight to keep the area secure and monitor the situation.

Authorities say the man did not fall through ice, but willingly entered the pond in Wareham.

Monday morning, a state police recovery unit and Plymouth County dive team members returned to the area to continue their search. Bartholomew was found along the shoreline under a thick layer of ice around 12:45 p.m., Cruz said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

An autopsy will be performed to determine the manner and cause of death. Foul play is not suspected.

Earlier in the day Monday, officials said the man was at the reservoir with friends and planning to go for a swim. They said he enjoyed swimming in cold water and that he was a local who knew the area well.

There was a large response to the reservoir, as seen in pictures posted on Twitter by the technical rescue team. The photos showed the dive team breaking up the ice to search for the missing man -- a scene that was also captured on video from up above.

Nancy Andrews has lived next to the reservoir for 49 years, and she tells NBC10 Boston that it's never really frozen.

“You never skate on the reservoir because that’s never really frozen," she said. "It’s like any other pond if you’re not going to have a lot of cold weather continuously, it’s just never going to be safe."

At the scene Sunday evening, there were several people, who were upset, hugging each other.

First responders spent hours Sunday night searching an icy reservoir in their quest to find a missing person who fell through the ice in Wareham, Massachusetts. And they say they will resume the search for the man's body Monday morning.

Andrews says the reservoir is used as a water source for a nearby cranberry bog, and is very deep.

“I’ve seen children play hockey. My own kids have been out on the bog skating but I have never ever seen anyone out on the reservoir, which is very deep and mucky,” she said.

People were asked to avoid the area while the search was ongoing.

Contact Us