Man riding off-road vehicle dies after driving into Sarco Lake

MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, NJ –  A man riding illegally at an abandoned mining site, flooded by water decades ago was riding several passengers in his offroad utility terrain vehicle when he drove into the lake, submerging himself and his passengers.  The passengers managed to escape, but the driver did not.

Manchester Township Chief of Police Lisa Parker announced that on December 12, 2020, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to Heritage Minerals Mine, also known as ASARCO, on Route 70 in Whiting, for a report of a motor vehicle accident with a submersion. Responding Officers spoke to a group of people who were driving Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV’s), the group related to the Officers that a UTV had entered the lake at the center of the property, causing the driver and the passengers to be submerged in the lake.

According to Chief Parker, the UTV and one of the passengers, a 62-year-old James Grover, Howell, did not resurface.  The other passengers and members of the group attempted to locate Mr. Grover but were unsuccessful. Manchester Township Police and members of the Manchester, Ridgeway and Whiting Volunteer Fire Companies conducted an underwater dive search and rescue operation and located the UTV overturned and submerged in 25 feet of water.  Mr. Grover was attached to the UTV by his safety harness.  Mr. Grover was removed from his safety harness and life saving measures were performed by Manchester Township Emergency Medical EMT’s and Robert Wood Johnson Paramedics.  Mr. Grover succumbed to his injuries; a suspected drowning, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“[We] would like to commend the heroic efforts of the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company, Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company, Whiting Volunteer Fire Company, Manchester Township Emergency Medical Services, Robert Wood Johnson Paramedics, New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office and the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, “  a statement from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office read.

“This is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Manchester Township Police Traffic Safety Unit and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit,”  the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement.