BY NATHAN MAYBERGGREENWOOD LAKE — A 40-year-old New Jersey man drowned in Greenwood Lake on Monday after jumping off an open bow motor boat for a swim shortly before noon.
The body of Ronald Huffin, of Paterson, was recovered from the bottom of the lake about five hours after he had disappeared in the water. A West Milford Police department diver found the body about 30-feet deep in the lake, Greenwood Lake Police Department Chief John Hansen said. State Police divers also assisted.
Huffin was on the boat with his girlfriend, Arline Wallace, and Dale Gervald of Wayne, N.J. Gervald was the owner of the boat, according to police.
At around noon, Huffin leapt from the boat and swam to the back of the boat. At that point, Huffin had “some sort of issue,” Hansen said. He suspects Huffin could have suffered a health or physical related issue before drowning. Gervald dove into the water to help but couldn’t find him, according to Hansen.
Hansen said he believed Gervald was familiar with the waters but unsure of his companions.
There was some alcohol on the boat, but Hansen said he couldn’t speculate as to whether that was a factor until the toxicology tests are completed.
Drownings are rare in the lake, which can be 50 to 60 feet deep in certain sections, he said.
The last drowning death in Greenwood Lake occurred on July 19, 2010, when a 24-year-old Queens man went under the water near a floating dock at Thomas Morahan Waterfront Park and didn’t come back up.
The Greenwood Lake Police Department were joined in their response by the West Milford Police Department, New York State Police, Greenwood Lake Fire Department and Monroe Fire Department.
A reminderMonday’s drowning is a reminder that “people need to be careful and conscious of what is going on around them” while boating on the lake, Greenwood Lake Mayor Jesse Dwyer said.
“I’d like everyone to be very mindful of their safety, and the safety of others, while enjoying our beautiful lake,” Dwyer said during Monday’s Village Board meeting.
Dwyer praised the “speedy recovery” of Huffin’s body and the joint response of multiple agencies.
Greenwood Lake Village Police Officer Neil Ryan told village trustees that it appears Huffin was rafting on the lake without a life preserver. “I want to remind everyone to please wear a life vest or some type of flotation device when boating,” he said.
John Haughey contributed to this story.