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Man, 25, Sentenced For Lake Hopatcong Boating Accident That Killed Friend

Jason Gil died in a 2019 boating accident in which his friend operating the boat, Nick Zarantonello, was drunk, authorities said.
Jason Gil died in a 2019 boating accident in which his friend operating the boat, Nick Zarantonello, was drunk, authorities said. Photo Credit: Gofun'

A 25-year-old Morris County man was sentenced to nearly a year in jail for a drunken boating accident that killed his friend in 2019, authorities said.

Nicholas Zarantonello was sentenced to three years probation conditioned on 364 days in Morris County Jail and 200 hours of community service, Acting Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll said.

Zarantonello also can not operate a boat for one year or drive for three months, Carroll said in a joint release with Acting Chief of Investigations Christoph Kimker and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan.

Friday's sentencing by Presiding Morris County Judge Stephen Taylor was for the Aug. 3, 2019 incident on Lake Hopatcong in Jefferson Township in which Zarantonello was operating a boat with two passengers, authorities said.

One of those passengers, Jason Gil, 24, of Mount Arlington, went overboard. His body was spotted two days later by another boater on the lake.

"Further investigation revealed that Zarantonello had consumed alcohol prior to operating the pontoon boat and was intoxicated at the time of the incident," Carroll said.

Zarantonello pleaded guilty on July 20, 2020, to one count of third degree Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide before Judge Taylor. He also entered a guilty plea to the boating regulation violation of Operating a Vessel Under the Influence.

Members of the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit contributed to the prosecution.

A scholarship fundraiser on GoFundMe in Gil's memory had raised $840 as of Saturday. 

"Starting this year, County College of Morris Radiography program will be giving out a few scholarships in memory of Jason," campaign founder Martha Korovich wrote. 

"At graduation, we will be celebrating his life on earth and all the lives he touched and will continue to touch. Any donation will help make an impact. Thank you in advance for your contribution of spreading the joy of Jason."

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