A Frederick County man died Friday after attempting to rescue his family’s dog, which had wandered onto a frozen pond outside his home near Libertytown.

David Collingham, 59, was pronounced dead at Frederick Memorial Hospital after spending more than an hour submerged in water under the ice, according to Tom Coe, deputy chief with the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services.

Units were dispatched to the scene at 7:01 p.m. and did not locate Collingham in the water until 8:01 p.m.

“His actual initial location was not easily determined,” Coe said. “Crews were using the search light from the Maryland State Police helicopter and searching below the surface of the ice to see where he was.”

After locating his body, responders were able to break the ice and pull Collingham from the water. He was transported by ambulance to Frederick Memorial Hospital and arrived at 8:55 p.m. Workers declared him dead after taking advanced lifesaving measures both on scene and at the hospital.

A crew remained on the property until around 9:30 p.m., Coe said.

Collingham had gone out that evening to search for the family’s golden retriever, Cooper, who went missing on a night when wind chills were expected to reach from 10 to 15 degrees below zero.

When he found the dog on a partially frozen pond on an adjoining property, he called his family and asked for help, said Nick Collingham, 38, one of David’s oldest sons. His wife, Rebecca, went out to the pond with their two youngest children — a son, 14, and a daughter, 11.

When the family reached the area, they found that Collingham had fallen into the water.

“His last words to them were that he wasn’t going to make it and he loved them,” Nick said. “It’s just tragic. It’s something nobody ever expected.”

“I think maybe we are a little angry that he went out there because he knew better, but that’s the type of guy he was,” Nick continued. “He couldn’t just stand by and watch something bad happen, knowing how much he loved the dog and the family loved the dog.”

Collingham had seven children, including the 14-year-old and 11-year-old, who lived with him and Rebecca on a country property between Libertytown and Mount Airy. He also had eight grandchildren, according to Nick.

As the owner of International Quality Registrars Corporation — an accreditation company based in Frederick — Collingham was well-known in the community. But he was also a titan in the world of amateur radio, where he went by the call sign K3LP.

In his more than 40 years as a ham radio operator, Collingham befriended hundreds of people around the world and led dozens of expeditions to promote amateur radio in hard-to-reach countries, said Paul Ewing, a friend from San Jose, California.

“There are several hundred thousand amateur radio operators worldwide, and I would venture to say that most knew of David and knew of his activities,” Ewing said. “A ham radio friend in Thailand called me early yesterday morning and asked if I heard the news — that’s how far the word had spread. It’s a shock and just a deep loss, that this pillar, this giant, is gone.”

Among his many excursions, Collingham recently took trips to Antarctica and Niger to promote the hobby and make “contact” with countries where ham radio is largely unknown, said Jim Nitzberg, another friend from Taneytown.

Those DXpeditions — as the trips are called among amateur radio enthusiasts — were one of biggest points of pride in Collingham’s life, Nick said. The hobby took him around the globe, from Libya to Iraq to South Sudan, which he visited in 2011 shortly after the country was founded.

With permission from the fledgling government, Collingham launched an expedition and stayed in South Sudan for 21 days, Ewing said. He also arranged for local schools around the capital of Juba to attend ham radio exhibitions and learn more about the activity.

“In many of the countries, he would donate or leave behind equipment so that people could continue with it after he left,” Ewing said. “He really was just a pillar in the field and really enjoyed introducing young people to the hobby.”

His efforts to promote ham radio also extended to his hometown of Fontana, California, Nitzberg said. Collingham donated equipment and established an amateur radio club at Dorothy Grant Elementary School in Fontana, where more than 180 students have taken FCC licensing exams.

Collingham’s generosity was his defining characteristic for most of his friends, added Barry Thaysen, a longtime friend and employee at IQR.

According to Ewing, the urge to give back started when Collingham was a college student struggling to pay his tuition. As he was leaving his school’s administration office, a complete stranger stopped and gave him the money he needed to make a payment, Ewing said.

The event became a defining story that Collingham would repeat to friends.

“It really impressed upon him the need to give back,” Ewing said. “And I really don’t know anybody who gave back more than David. When we went to Africa, he would come back literally with the clothes on his back. I mean, he would give away everything, including his clothes.”

When he wasn’t working or traveling, Collingham was spending time at home with his family, Nitzberg added. His Facebook page was mostly devoted to pictures of his wife and his two youngest children — of his son at football practice or his daughter during piano recitals.

“The weekends were for them,” Nitzberg said. “You can see his pictures — it’s all about his kids and his wife.”

“He was a great father,” Nick added. “Very supportive, very loving. Amateur radio and his family — that’s the stuff he’s most proud of.”

Follow Kate Masters on Twitter: @kamamasters.

Kate Masters is the features and food reporter for The Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at kmasters@newspost.com.

(40) comments


Not to trivialize the tragedy, but, did the dog make it?


According to the comments below from those involved, unfortunately, the dog died also.

This has got to be one of the saddest stories I've read in the FNP.


Rubecca just called me, she is having Memorial on Monday January 15th.
Place: Green Meadow Farm
Urbana, Maryland
Date: January 15th, 2018

Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Dress Code is Casual, bring anything want and share your memories about David if you like to do so.


[sad] Very sad and heartbreaking. Dave was a great person and taught me a lot in the ISO world. Prayers for family.


This was a very shocking and unexpected news for us. We knew David since 1987. David used to live across from our house, since then he was our best friend. I was the best man on his wedding. He was such a caring and loving person. Whenever we needed any advice or help he was always available to help us out. He was a self made man as he always used to share his childhood memories, he was such a hard worker. I got up several times last night and can't stop thinking about him. We can't fill the gap created by his sudden passing.


This is the saddest story I've read in a long time.

My first instinct was to forward it, but it is so heartbreaking I decided not to.

The family has our deepest sympathy.


RIP David! Condolences to Rebecca and the family and his many friends and colleagues. I just recently (Friday all day) worked with David concerning our company's business requirements. When we departed his office at 5:30 that day, no one ever thought this event would have occurred. We were planning on meeting Monday afternoon to complete the effort. He was a very hard working business man and had shared many stories with us about his family and his adventures. Again RIP David and prayers and peace for your family!


How sad is this , a man trying to do a good deed s taken from his loved ones


This is so very tragic. I pray this gentle man's family will comfort each other through the time going forward. Remember what he taught and what he lived. Christian hugs to all of you. "I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you; but instead I am deeply honored knowing you spent the rest if your life with me." -Camille Marcotte


Very sad - my condolences to the family.


So sad to read and my condolences to the family. While I'm sure he knew intellectually he shouldn't have gone out there the pull of the heart is strong and many of us would have tried to save that dog, too.


This man was a true hero and was loved and respected by many across the globe, including me. To those of you arguing invalid points that do not matter, shame on you! Please practice self-control and stop posting such comments! My thoughts and prayers are with David's family and endless circle of friends. I am a better person for having known him.


Agree Whoknows. He was a great guy with a big heart.


Obviously, without needing to be said, the dog did not make it. My father in law died a hero. Please keep your rude comments to yourself and let our family mourn the loss of an amazing man.


I didn't know your father-in-law, but my brother may have, he's been operating a ham radio for as long as I can remember. Yes, he did die a hero and, while I'm very sorry that he did, I don't know that I would have done anything differently then he did had it been my dog on the ice, I know how much I loved her. Please accept my deepest sympathies and condolences.


Correction: my brother has been a ham radio operator, not operating a ham radio.


Many condolences to your family. I could see myself doing the same thing when it comes to my dog. Very heartbreaking story. Cannot quit thinking about what a hero this man was. Sorry for the loss of the dog as well.


Thank you Vicki


censorship, alive and well at FNP, even when it does not involve sex oir violence, just opinion.


Well, you're a guest on their private property. Behave accordingly.


You have sensorship confused with being inappropriate. A great man loved by his family and many others has died. Show some respect and if you can’t help yourself then say nothing at all.


If you have one positive brain cell left, could you please reach way down, and find some respect and sympathy for this family? This has nothing to do with what you are sadistically trying to introduce. PLEASE!


I will commend the EMTs that responded though. They di their job, as they always do. But I hope the FNP follows up. they rarely do.


Scott, I'm sure you mean well, but your comments are inappropriate. These are not public figures, and they did not invite strangers to comment on their tragedy. Best just to offer your prayers and well wishes or to remain silent.


What a sad story. My heart goes out to the family.


This kind man was a Peach, a GoodEgg and certainly a man worthy of praise. Add my name to the international chorus of friends and neighbors whose heart is so heavy hearing this news. His surviving wife and school age children must be advised to promptly claim their rightful benefits with the Social Security Administration for reliable monthly income that will help this family continue to live without their BigDaddy...


OK, label me a conspiracy theorist. But, a man who, by the picture, had experience in Anctartica, and a daughter drags her 11 year old out to look for him...umm? Really?? Something here does not smell right. I know people do not always react logically, but this is one..wow. Who the heck drags an 11 yr old in freezing weather onto a frozen pond?


"It is better to remain silent and be though a fool than speak out and remove all doubt." Learn it, know it. live it. What a putz.


First of all, he did not drag me onto the pond (I am 12 now, I had my first birthday without my father on Sept 6), I was trying to save him but I couldn't. I found this comment very rude. Thank you to all of these wonderful people for prayers for my father.


Collingham21 ,

This is one story I won't forget. My wife and I felt terrible when we heard what happened.

As for the rude comments, sadly there are people -- particularly online -- who seem to enjoy insulting others and trying to get a reaction out of them (aka, 'trolls'). In this case the comment may not have been intended to hurt, but that doesn't make it alright.

Your response -- especially considering the circumstances -- shows that you are more mature and level-headed than many adults. That trait will serve you well.

Wishing you the best of luck, and I hope you and your family are able to get some happiness from Christmas.


Sounds Like Mr C was a great man who lived a fulfilling life. My heart goes out to his family in this tragedy. Truly heartbreaking. I am so sorry.


Tragic story. Love and blessings to the family. He sounds like a great man.


I am so sorry this happened. I do wish the reporter would have let us know what happened to the dog.


I hope you are kidding.


You hope *she's* kidding, and then you chime in with some absurd conspiracy theory? Please! FYI if a story mentions an animal in peril, and especially if someone dies in an attempt to save that animal, then it's Journalism 101 to report what happened to the animal. This story did not do that and got at least one other important detail wrong as well. I don't wish to distract from Mr. Collingham's heroism by arguing this further. I will say, though, that the FNP's source for the photo of Mr. Collingham was also the source of my facts when I cited the fate of the dog and so forth.


The dog's body was not recovered. The focus was on Dave. This is my pond and we will attempt to recover the dog's body when weather permits.


I feel bad for Mr. Collingham and his family. BTW this story neglects to mention that the dog was not merely on the ice but in the water, which was what prompted Mr. Collingham to try to save him instead of just calling to the dog to come off the ice. The story also does not mention that the dog died as well, and that his body was recovered by fire personnel. See



What a horrible way to die. I would have done the same thing though. There is no way I could have stood along the side and watched my dog die without at least trying to save him. Sometimes we have to make decisions that put our own lives at risk.


I pray God will comfort you and give you peace. I am so very sorry for your loss.


How very sad.
My condolences to the family.

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