Howell Man Tragically Drowns In Manchester

A Howell Resident died today after a visit to a popular privately-owned 7000-acre tract of land in Manchester this morning ended tragically, Police say.

The victim has been identified as 33-year-old Howell Township man, Edwin Toro-Mejia.

Police said “Edwin Toro-Mejia, unlawfully visited the Heritage Mineral property and attempted to swim in the lake with other individuals around 09:30 am. Toro-Mejia and a juvenile family member were attempting to cross Crystal Lake when Toro-Mejia appeared to suffer from a muscle cramp in his leg and went into distress approximately thirty yards from the shoreline. Family members went to the aid of Toro-Mejia who eventually submerged underwater and disappeared in the current.”

The Manchester Township Police Department, with the assistance of the Manchester Township EMS, the Manchester, Ridgeway, Whiting, Lakehurst, Lacey, Toms River, and South Toms River Volunteer Fire Departments, the Lanoka Harbor and Ocean Beach Search and Rescue Squads, and the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit responded to the scene.

“Search and rescue operations were conducted for approximately an hour and a half before Toro-Mejia was located unresponsive. He was pulled from the water where he was pronounced deceased. The preliminary investigation indicates the drowning to be accidental.”

Assisting with this investigation is the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office. Anyone who may have been at “Crystal Lake” and witnessed this incident is asked to contact Detective Richard Jupinka of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Investigations Bureau at 732-657-2009 ext. 4206.

Police added “The Manchester Township Police Department would like to remind the public that the Heritage Minerals or “ASARCO” site is private property. It is closed for recreational and/or other use and it is a criminal offense to enter or remain on the property. In the interest of public safety, the Manchester Township Police urges everyone to obey the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the site. Trespassers are subject to substantial fines and penalties up to and including incarceration for being on the property.”

In 2021, a Cliffside NJ man died after drowning at the same location and in 2022, a Lakewood man died after being pulled from the Harry Wright Lake in Manchester.

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