An Atlantic Highlands man was charged with drunk driving in the Navesink River accident that killed the lone passenger of the boat he was operating and sent all five occupants of a second boat into the water Saturday night, State Police said Sunday morning.
The body of the victim, which had been missing after the 11:30 p.m. crash, was recovered from the river almost nine hours later, after being spotted by a State Police helicopter between Middletown and Fair Haven, said Sergeant Brian Polite.
An eyewitness gave redbankgreen a different account of the body’s recovery.
The name of the victim has not been released pending notification of next of kin, he said. [Update, 2:50 p.m.: NJ.com reports the victim was Christopher Plant, 50, from Keansburg.]
Placed under arrest was George Harrington, 39, who was at the wheel of a Stingray that struck a Boston Whaler with five on board, Polite said. [An earlier version of this article misidentified which boat Harrington and the dead man were aboard.]
All seven occupants of the two vessels were ejected into the water by the impact, and all but the dead man managed to climb back aboard one or both vessels.
One occupant of the Stingray suffered a minor shoulder injury that did not require a hospital visit, Polite said.
Polite said fuller details about the crash were being withheld pending completion of an investigation. Information about Harrington’s custody status wasn’t immediately available, he said.
The accident prompted an emergency response not seen on the river since Fair Haven’s then-fire chief jumped into the river following an alcohol-related accident in Rumson in November, 2009.
As was the case then, small battalion of emergency vessels from towns along the river and elsewhere probed the darkness with spotlights, while two helicopters sought signs of the missing man well into pre-dawn hours. Divers working in teams of two took turns searching underwater.
Amanda Lynn of Fair Haven, who witnessed the accident, also witnessed the discovery of the body, from the same vantage point, at the north end of Grange Avenue, she told redbankgreen. She said a paddleboarder traveling the river between 8 and 8:30 a.m. came up the victim in the middle of the river a short distance west of the area where much of the overnight search activity occurred.
She said the paddleboarder began frantically waving his arms, and she called 911.
“It took a while for them to get out there,” she said of the State Police Marine unit. While the paddler waited, he was joined by several kayakers, she said.