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Trespassing Incident Ends in Tragic Drowning in NJ

Manchester Township

By: Richard L. Smith 

Manchester Township, NJ - A visit to a privately-owned 7,000-acre tract of land in Manchester ended tragically for a 33-year-old Howell Township man, Mr. Edwin Toro-Mejia, on Saturday morning.  

According to authorities, Toro-Mejia unlawfully entered the Heritage Mineral property and attempted to swim in Crystal Lake around 9:30 am with a juvenile family member.

While trying to cross the lake, Toro-Mejia appeared to suffer a muscle cramp in his leg and went into distress about thirty yards from the shoreline.  

Despite family members' efforts to help, Toro-Mejia submerged and disappeared underwater.


Emergency responders from the Manchester Township Police Department, along with Manchester Township EMS, several local volunteer fire departments, search and rescue squads, and the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, conducted search and rescue operations for about an hour and a half.  

Toro-Mejia was eventually found unresponsive and was pronounced deceased. Preliminary investigations suggest 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.  

Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to contact Detective Richard Jupinka of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Investigations Bureau at 732-657-2009 ext. 4206.

New Manchester Township Police remind the public that the Heritage Minerals, or "ASARCO," site is private property, closed to recreational use.

Trespassing on the property is a criminal offense, and violators are subject to significant fines and penalties, including incarceration. The police urge everyone to obey the "No Trespassing" signs posted at the site for public safety.