The New Jersey man whose dog died when his pickup truck plunged into a freezing river after he allegedly drove the vehicle onto the ice and did doughnuts is now facing animal cruelty charges, officials say.
Andrew Mayer, 27, was charged Monday with animal cruelty in the death of the dog, a young boxer mix named Rollo, on March 1. Rollo was in the back seat of Mayer's truck when it plunged through thin ice on the Toms River while Mayer was allegedly driving on the frozen river.
Mayer was initially arrested last week on criminal mischief and careless driving charges. He appeared in court Monday and told a judge he will represent himself in the case.
Bystanders who saw the truck doing doughnuts on the river called them to the scene. But by the time they arrived, the truck had submerged with Rollo inside.
A friend of Mayer who asked that NBC 4 New York not use his name said Mayer tried to get the dog out of the backseat before the truck crashed through the ice, but the dog was terrified -- and the vehicle sank so quickly.
"He would do anything for that dog, anything," the friend said. "That was his baby."
Mayer, who rents the basement of a home with his friend Daniel Joly, has declined to talk to NBC 4 New York. Police said Joly, who was a passenger in the truck at one point, told investigators he argued with Mayer about driving on the frozen river and got out of the vehicle.
Area police and firefighters searched for the truck and were joined by a helicopters dispatched by the Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police. The multi-agency search cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," a police source estimated.
They eventually found the submerged vehicle about 100 feet from the shore. A rescue diver was lowered to the truck and found the dead dog dog inside.
The truck was removed from the river Monday.