UPDATE: Visiting hours are scheduled from 4-8 p.m. Sunday followed by a 10 a.m. funeral service on Monday for an 18-year-old New Milford High School senior who drowned trying to help a group of local kids.
Both the April 25 service and visitation for Clinten Ajit the day before are at St. Peter's Mar Thoma Church, 56 Ridgewood Road in Washington Township: (201) 837-2200. The service will be followed by interment in Westwood Cemetery, 23 Kinderkamack Road, Westwood: (201) 664-7161.
Ajit was born in Niranam, Kerala, India on Jan. 22, 2004. He emigrated to the U.S. with his family in September 2012, when he was eight years old.
"He enjoyed participating in musical theater, band, and various sports," Gabriella George wrote on a GoFundMe page. "He was an intelligent, humorous, and kind young man.
"He was looking forward to attending college at Montclair State University to study criminal justice."
Ajit offered to go get a soccer ball inadvertently kicked into a pond near the borough athletics fields as dusk began to fall Friday evening, April 22.
"He didn't know how to swim and never came back up," a responder told Daily Voice.
Police officers responding at 7:15 p.m. to an urgent 911 call at Hard Castle Pond behind the Dorchester Manor Apartments found Ajit's shoes on the bank, the ball floating at the southwest corner of the pond and no sign of the teen.
A diver discovered his body on the pond's muddy bottom around 9:50 p.m.
Ajit was "a loving son to Mr. Ajit Mathew and Mrs. Annamma George and brother to Chris," George wrote on the GoFundMe page. "Kindly consider donating to help support the family during this difficult time."
"There's no words that can describe the pain that this family is going through right now. Our hearts are broken," New Milford Mayor Michael Putrino said late Friday.
Borough detectives were investigating, assisted by the Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office, Police Capt. Kevin Van Saders said.
Van Saders and the mayor thanked the many responders, particularly the divers, who quickly converged on the pond.
Members of a Bergen County regional SCUBA task force responded to a staging area on nearby Columbia Street -- along with borough police and firefighters -- following an urgent 911 call.
Divers from Mahwah, Wyckoff and Wallington arrived soon after, along with an EMS unit.
The pond reaches an estimated 12 to 15 feet at its deepest point, locals say.
Divers went into the water as dusk fell following a sonar scan. Lighting illuminated the pond and surrounding area as multiple dive teams rotated in and out of the water.
The diver who pulled Ajit out of the pond was later evaluated for possible hypothermia by the Dumont Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
NEW MILFORD PD RELEASE: "On 04/22/2022 at 7:15 p.m., the New Milford Police responded to a 911 call of a male party who went swimming in Hard Castle Pond and did not resurface. The pond was located near Dorchester Lane. Officers responded to the scene and were unable to locate the party. The New Milford Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management responded as well as water search and rescue teams from the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management and fire departments from surrounding jurisdictions. At around 10 p.m., the search teams located a male party under the water who was deceased. The party was identified as the 18 year old missing male. The male was a New Milford resident and student at New Milford High School. Detectives are working with the Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office to determine the cause of death." ~ New Milford Police Capt. Kevin Van Saders
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