ROXBURY, NJ — A plaque commemorating Curtis Mulch, a Roxbury resident who died last month while operating a weed harvester on Lake Hopatcong, will be installed on the lake shoreline, officials decided Tuesday.
Mulch, 68, of Landing, died June 24 when the machine capsized while pulling weeds from the lake’s Crescent Cove section in Hopatcong Borough, police said. The cause of the incident remains under investigation.
The Roxbury Township Council voted unanimously to install the plaque at Landing Gateway Park, a small peninsula into Landing Channel — adjacent to Lake’s End Marina — leased by Roxbury from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).
Roxbury Councilman Mark Crowley, a member of the Lake Hopatcong Commission, proposed the commemorative sign. “The Lake Commission, the lake community, Landing and all of Roxbury is saddened by the loss of Curtis Mulch,” Crowley said. “He was a real ambassador for Lake Hopatcong.”
Mulch — the former owner of Curt’s Sunoco in Randolph — was employed by the DEP, which manages Lake Hopatcong. He was highly experienced in operating the weed harvester, having done so for about 12 years.
Weed Removal Canceled
Crowley said the accident prompted the state to cancel all Lake Hopatcong weed harvesting this year. “Unfortunately, with the accident, all the equipment has been taken off the lake … there will be no more harvesting this year,” he said. “They will be looking at all the equipment for perhaps the next six months.”
Although the lake commission is exploring options for weed removal, such as finding an “outside contractor,” it has no money to hire one, Crowley said. “Between the budget cuts, not receiving money for the lake commission and the very unfortunate accident, it’s going to be a tough time for the lake, which I’ve heard is being heavily used this summer,” Crowley said.
A 'Wonderful Heart'
Five days after Mulch died, DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe addressed the accident in a press release.
“Today, I and the rest of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection family mourn the passing of Curtis Mulch,” McCabe said. “Those who had the privilege of working closely with Curtis saw first-hand that he was a good person with a wonderful heart. He was hard-working and dedicated and always welcomed his co-workers with a smile.”
McCabe said Mulch “will be deeply missed throughout the DEP, especially by his friends and co-workers at Lake Hopatcong State Park.”
Crowley echoed those sentiments.
“He had a wave for everybody,” said the councilman. “He was always there to help. He also, during winter months, was working for the lake by being the chief mechanic on all the equipment that the lake commission owned and gave to the state for weed harvesting. I’m very saddened by the loss of Curtis and I pray for his whole family.”
Roxbury Mayor Bob DeFillippo called Mulch's death a "very sad and tragic accident,"and asked for a moment of silence during the council meeting.
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