12-Year-Old Boy Drowns in Lake at High-End New Jersey Country Club, Identity Released

Mimi Nguyen Ly
By Mimi Nguyen Ly
June 28, 2019US News
12-Year-Old Boy Drowns in Lake at High-End New Jersey Country Club, Identity Released
A stock photo of police tape. (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

A 12-year-old boy died after drowning in a lake in New Jersey on June 26, officials said. His identity was released on June 27 as Aaron Melzer, a seventh-grade student at Lazar Middle School in Montville.

“We extend our sincere condolences to Aaron’s family and friends as we keep them in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time. We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this time.” Superintendent René Rovtar said in a message posted on the Facebook page of Montville Township Public Schools.

Lovtar added that grief counselors will be available at the school on June 28 and July 1.

“The death of a student is a difficult event to process and will likely cause a high level of anxiety and distress for many students,” she wrote. “We encourage you to discuss their thoughts and feelings with them and assist them in working through their grief or concerns.”

“Please also consider monitoring your child’s communications and social media use to further assess their needs,” she added.

On June 26, officers responded to a report of a possible drowning around 3:30 p.m. at Lake Valhalla Club in Montville, according to a statement from the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.

The office confirmed the boy’s death on June 27 and did not disclose his identity.

The boy was swimming by a dock when he disappeared underwater after reportedly getting stuck on something under the dock, according to Pix11. He was known to be a strong swimmer.

No one noticed that the boy had gone missing until 20 minutes had already passed, according to News 12.

Divers from the Montville Fire Department came to rescue him from the water. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead, the outlet reported.

The water was about 10-12 feet deep, according to CBS2.

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office announced that an investigation into his death remains ongoing, adding that the incident is not believed to be suspicious at this time. The investigation is to determine whether Lake Valhalla Club has adhered to all necessary protocols.

The Morris County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit and the Montville Township Police are also joining to investigate the incident.

There are normally two lifeguards on duty at the lake, club members said, according to News 12.

The members-only club charges about $6,000 to join, and an annual membership fee of $1,500 thereafter, according to Patch.com.

“The safety of our members is our top priority, which is why we are working closely with investigators to understand what happened,” the club’s board of governors said in an email sent to the club’s members, sighted by Pix11.

“Nothing can change how badly and deeply we feel for the family and friends and we are incredibly sorry for their loss,” the email said.

“Just really be cognizant of where your kids are, especially when they’re in water,” Montville Police Chief Andrew Caggiano said, according to WABC. “I’m sure you’ve all seen where there are drownings in far less water than here. As a parent of three, you always want to watch what your kids are doing.”

The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit encourages anyone with information about this incident to contact them at 973-285-6200 or the Montville Township Police Department at 973-257-4300.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 74 percent of drowning incidents involving children younger than 15 from 2015 to 2017 occurred in residential areas.

Drowning is the second leading cause of preventable death for young children up to age 15, according to the National Safety Council.

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