EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - Yesterday was a tragic day here in our community. One of our Churchill students, a 13-year-old young man, lost his life after slipping under water at the Municipal Pond here at the Municipal complex. Two of his friends were more fortunate in that they were able to escape the frigid water. Our hearts go out to the family, his friends and his community as I cannot imagine the grief of such a loss. As a community, I know that the family will be able to count on support from every corner of the township.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all the first responders who were instrumental in the rescue of this child. I was there as witness to the professionalism, selflessness, and promptness of the dispatchers, police, fire fighters, and rescue squad who put their own lives at risk trying to save this teenager. Several were seen, treated, and released from the hospital after suffering from hypothermia and other injuries. They should know, that despite the tragic outcome, I am incredibly proud of each of them. The community should know that they did everything humanly possible and that their heroism is admired and never diminished despite the loss.

The public should also know that within minutes of learning about this tragedy, I had support from the East Brunswick Schools, the Administration at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the Clergy, and Governor Murphy. They each reached out to provide any services that would be needed for the rescue and any services needed to deal with the grief that would follow in the aftermath of the tragedy.

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The days and weeks ahead will be difficult as we try to come to terms with such a loss. Please keep the family in your hearts, minds, and prayers. Tragedy has a way of jolting us in to resetting our priorities. Hug your child, kiss your spouse, and say “thank you” a little more often.

Brad J. Cohen, Mayor