A suburban Johnsburg man died Sunday evening after falling through ice during a game of hockey with his son.
Fire officials said 47-year-old Patrick Rorig fell through the two-inch ice on the pond behind his house at 3709 Windmere Lane and was underwater for a total of 31 minutes. Rorig's son was able to get off the ice in time.
The McHenry Township Fire Protection District got the call for a water rescue around 6:14 p.m. and found the man about 10 feet away from where he went under. Rorig was airlifted to the hospital in Libertyville where he later was pronounced dead.
"In the immediate area around him, the ice was breaking," said Mike Majercik of the McHenry Township Fire Protection District. "They were standing and searching for him, the ice was breaking, then ultimately we wound up putting a diver under the water."
Rorig is the second person this month to die after falling through ice in McHenry County.
Tom Popovich told NBCChicago he was supposed to play tennis with his best friend on Monday.
"He bought me that tennis racket and that's why I left it there for him," said Popovich, who left the racket at the spot where Rorig fell through the ice.
"I wanted to see where my friend died, cause I can't believe it yet," said Popovich. "He had such a strong heart and such a strong will, it's difficult to believe anything could kill him, let alone a mere pond."
Popovich said his friend, who's nicknamed Rocko, was so popular in this community, the hospital had to ask visitors to leave.
"Rocco was the heart and soul of this community," Popovich said. "I used to always tell him he had the heart of a lion."
How did he get the nickname Rocko?
Popovich recalls the day his friend showed up to 6th grade as the new kid wearing a Rocky Balboa T-shirt, and the name stuck. "It was a very appropriate name, it turned out. He was a rock. Everyone's rock. Everybody loved him."