In the early hours of March 1, Andrew Mayer of Toms River, N.J., somehow thought it was a good idea to drive his truck out to the middle of the frozen Toms River and do donuts (drive around in tight circles). He brought along Rolo, his 2-year-old Boxer/Lab mix.
When his truck crashed through the ice, Mayer managed to crawl out of it, but he could not pull Rolo from the cab.
The U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police, local police and other responders spent 10 hours — and hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayers’ money — searching for the truck. They finally found it the next morning, with Rolo’s body inside.
In addition to criminal mischief, careless driving and pollution charges, the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJ SPCA) charged Mayer with one count of third-degree failure to provide proper care by recklessly endangering an animal’s life.
Today, four months after Rolo’s death, Mayer was indicted for third-degree animal cruelty in the death of his dog and third-degree criminal mischief for causing a substantial interruption in public emergency services, according to a news release from the Ocean County prosecutor’s office.
His acts “purposely, knowingly or recklessly failed to provide necessary care for and protection of his dog, Rolo, from harm by driving his pickup truck onto the frozen Toms River, and as a result, the vehicle cracked through the ice and his dog died,” the news release states.
“Mayer then failed to notify authorities of this incident when he got safely to shore, resulting in a huge rescue operation that took place for hours involving the United States Coast Guard’s aviation unit, the New Jersey State Police aviation unit, NJ State Police/local marine units, multiple local police departments, fire companies and first aid squads from Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach and Island Heights.”
The most Mayer faces is up to five years in state prison for each charge.
Mayer’s supporters insisted he did his best to get Rolo out of the truck.
“He did almost kill himself trying to save his dog,” his cousin’s fiancée, Helecia Morris, told NJ.com March 3. “He’s completely devastated. His truck, his dog — everything is in this bay.”
One week later, the Asbury Park Press reported that Mayer appeared in a Toms River municipal courtroom, where Judge Damian G. Murray read the charges against him.
At that time the judge offered Mayer a public defender, but just as Mayer had made the brilliant decision to do donuts on a frozen river, he decided he will instead represent himself in court.
“Just so you understand, you have third-degree charges against you, which could carry substantial penalties in these matters, as well as a criminal history that could follow you for a considerable period of time,” Murray warned him, according to the Asbury Park Press.
Along with that criminal history, Mayer has had 14 traffic violations and 12 suspensions of his driver’s license.
No, Mayer insisted, he would “absolutely” represent himself. The prosecuting attorney will be Ocean County Assistant Prosecutor Heidi Tannenbaum-Newman.
Mayer was released today on his own recognizance to appear in court on a future date, according to the Ocean County prosecutor’s office.