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Driver Dead, SUV Found In Hackensack River In River Vale

John Inserra
John Inserra Photo Credit: FACEBOOK

A popular Hillsdale firefighter was found dead in his SUV Thursday in the upper Hackensack River in River Vale, the apparent victim of a heart attack.

John Inserra, 48, was married with three young children -- two boys and a girl. He coached and was extremely active in local youth sports, including softball and wrestling.

Inserra was reported missing after he headed to the a gym in Norwood early Thursday and wasn't heard from again, close friends said.

His phone was pinged to the area of Rivervale Road and Piermont Avenue in River Vale several hours later.

Officers from both towns responded to the area shortly after 4 p.m. and found Inserra's body in his mid-sized Acura, which River Vale Police Chief Sean Scheidle said was "down an embankment and partially submerged in the Hackensack River."

Responders said the SUV had gone off the road across from the Edgewood Country Club and landed upside down early Thursday. The drop is nearly 50 feet through thick brush. There were no skid marks, they said.

Inserra was pronounced dead soon after officers pulled his body out, they said.

A possible cause of death wasn't immediately given, although friends said he'd had severe heart trouble.

Responding were, among others, the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, the Bergen County Medical Examiner, the Bergen County Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification -- which collected evidence -- and police from Old Tappan, Montvale, Park Ridge and Woodcliff Lake.

Also responding were firefighters from River Vale, Hillsdale, Harrington Park, Old Tappan, Oradell, Mahwah and Woodcliff Lake, as well as a Bergen County Hazardous Materials Unit, EMS units from River Vale, Old Tappan, Norwood and Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

The River Vale CERT team assisted, as well.

Upper Hackensack River in River Vale.

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