Loved ones are mourning a man who drowned in a "lake" at a private property in Manchester Township, New Jersey.
On Saturday Edwin Caballero, 23, of Plainfield, New Jersey, visited the Heritage Minerals property, a privately-owned 7,000-acre tract of land in Manchester. He then went missing that day between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Family members said they last saw him near the shoreline of Crystal Lake, a body of water within the property.
Police and firefighters responded to the scene to take part in a search that began Saturday night. Sunday morning, the NJ State Police Marine Services Unit found Caballero’s body submerged about 16 feet below the waterline. His body was then recovered by the NJ State Police Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists unit.
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A preliminary investigation indicated Caballero entered the water and accidentally drowned. Officials continue to investigate however.
Anyone with information on Caballero’s death should call Manchester Township Police Detective Christian Nazario at 732-657-2009 ext. 4221 or Detective John Carroll of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit at 732-929-2027.
Heritage Minerals is a private property and recreational use is not allowed, according to police. They urged the public to obey the property's "No trespassing" signs.
“As a former mining site, the property consists of 7,000 acres that connect the eastern section of the township off of Route 37 to the western section, off of Route 70,” a Manchester Township Police spokesperson wrote. “During its years of operation, the land was mined so deeply that numerous bodies of water often referred to as ‘lakes’ formed. These ‘lakes’ which are actually groundwater aquifers, litter the landscape on the site.”
The spokesperson warned that the "lakes" on the property are “very unpredictable and dangerously unstable.”
“Those entering the water will quickly realize that after taking a few steps in the soft, unstable sand that the shoreline ‘shelf’ quickly drops off to depths that exceed 60 feet,” the spokesperson wrote. “Some estimates have the largest ‘lake’ on the property as being up to 300 feet deep.”
The steep drop offs along with the cold temperatures have led to several drownings at the property, according to the spokesperson.