Howell Man Dead After Drowning In Manchester Lake

A visit to the privately-owned Heritage Mineral property in Manchester turned deadly on Saturday morning when a 33-year-old Howell Township man, Edwin Toro-Mejia, attempted to swim in the lake and suffered a fatal accident.

According to authorities, Toro-Mejia and a juvenile family member attempted to cross Crystal Lake around 9:30 am when Toro-Mejia experienced a muscle cramp in his leg and went into distress approximately 30 yards from the shoreline. Family members tried to assist him, but he eventually submerged underwater and disappeared in the current.

A massive search and rescue operation was launched, involving multiple agencies, including the Manchester Township Police Department, EMS, and various volunteer fire departments, search and rescue squads, and the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit. After an hour and a half of searching, Toro-Mejia was located unresponsive and pulled from the water, where he was pronounced deceased.

The preliminary investigation indicates the drowning was accidental. The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office are assisting with the investigation.

The Manchester Township Police Department is urging anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact Detective Richard Jupinka at 732-657-2009 ext. 4206.

The police department also reminds the public that the Heritage Minerals site is private property and closed to recreational use. Trespassing on the property is a criminal offense, punishable by substantial fines and penalties, including incarceration. The public is urged to obey the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the site in the interest of public safety.

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