UPDATE: The body of a New Milford High School student was pulled from a borough pond hours after what witnesses said was a tragic accident.
The 18-year-old senior was apparently doing a good deed when he walked into the hard castle pond behind the Dorchester mansion apartments near the borough sports grounds at around 7.15pm on Friday April 22.
“Some kids accidentally threw a soccer ball in the water and [he] said he would get it for them,” one commenter said after police spoke with witnesses. “He couldn’t swim and never came back.”
Responding officers found the victim’s shoes on the bank, the ball floating in the southwest corner of the pond and no sign of the teenager.
A diver discovered his body on the muddy bottom of the pond around 9:50 p.m.
“No words can describe the pain this family is going through right now. Our hearts are broken,” New Milford Mayor Michael Putrino said Friday night. “Our city will pray for [them] this evening.”
Several teens and adults in the borough identified the victim, who they believe was active in extracurricular activities at New Milford High School.
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Police Captain Kevin Van Saders said borough detectives are investigating. They are assisted by the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office and informed the County Attorney’s Office.
Van Saders and the mayor thanked the many responders, especially the divers, who quickly converged on the pond.
Members of a Bergen County regional scuba diving task force responded to a staging area on nearby Columbia Street – along with police and borough firefighters – following a an urgent call to 911.
Divers from Mahwah, Wyckoff and Wallington arrived soon after, accompanied by an EMS unit.
The pond reaches about 12 to 15 feet at its deepest point, locals say.
Divers entered the water as dusk fell following a sonar scan. The lighting illuminated the pond and surrounding area as several dive teams rotated in and out of the water.
The diver who pulled the boy from the pond was later assessed for possible hypothermia by the Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
NMPD RELEASE: “On 4/22/2022 at 7:15 p.m., New Milford police responded to a 911 call from a man who went swimming at Hard Castle Pond and did not resurface. The pond was located near Dorchester Lane. Officers responded to the scene and were unable to locate the group. The New Milford Fire Department and Emergency Management Office responded along with on-water search and rescue crews from the Bergen County Emergency Management Office and fire departments from surrounding jurisdictions. Around 10 p.m., search teams located a deceased man underwater. The group has been identified as the missing 18-year-old man. The man was a resident of New Milford and a student at New Milford High School. Detectives are working with the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine cause of death.” ~ Kevin Van Saders, New Milford Police Captain
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