Years and years of warnings can prevent the next tragedy.

Not only is heading onto the 7,000-acre tract of land, known as the Heritage Mineral property which is privately owned, illegal but it's also dangerous especially to those swimming the waters.

On Sunday, another tragic death occurred on site after a swimmer drowned, according to Manchester Township Police.

Heritage Minerals Site (Manchester Police Dept.)
Heritage Minerals Site (Manchester Police Dept.)

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Six years ago, in June of 2015, Manchester Police and Fire crews, mainly those in the SCUBA Units pulled the body of a 17-year old girl from the water on the property.

It was ruled an accidental drowning after the teen went swimming in the waters.

Police have continued year after year after such incidents, some where the swimmer or other injured person on-site survives, to hammer home the message and plead with people to stay away if for nothing else, their own safety.

In September of 2016, prior to Labor Day, they were enforcing patrols in the area to keep people away.

There have been accidents and tragedies but there has also been criminal activity taking place on site.

In October of 2018, Manchester Police arrested four Ocean County residents for breaking into the property and then caused about $1,000 in damages as they mainly began kicking the wall of a building.

This past Sunday, August 1, 2021, was one of the latest incidents of tragedy or criminality.

Police said that 22-year-old Cliffside Park man, Jimy Sadan Gomez-Estrada unlawfully visited the Heritage Mineral property and then tried to swim in the lake with another individual around 6:30 pm.

After a short while, both went into distress in the water.

One was pulled up by a passerby but they couldn't get to Gomez-Estrada who was pulled up by a serape passerby who performed life-saving measures on the scene.

Gomez-Estrada was later brought to Community Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased.

Manchester Police said their preliminary investigation finds the drowning to be accidental.

If you were at “Crystal Lake” and witnessed the incident, you're asked to contact Detective Richard Conklin of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Investigations Bureau at 732-657-2009 extension 4211.

Moving forward, Manchester Police have released an additional statement filled with information as to why you should stay away from Crystal Lake (Heritage Minerals Property).

"Originally operated by ASARCO (American Smelting and Refining Company), Inc., the property was sold to and subsequently operated by Heritage Minerals until the cessation of mining operations in the early 1980’s. 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.

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. Seemingly unassuming, these bodies of water offer many dangers.

Because the lakes were formed as a result of the mining operation, they do not have stable bottoms or shore lines, the way naturally occurring lakes do. The banks 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. Some estimates have the largest ‘lake’ on the property as being up to 300 feet deep.

Because these ‘lakes’ are not fed by any streams but rather by a deep underground source, the water is clear but very cold. These ‘lakes’ are filled with mineral-laden spring water from the underground aquifer and, as such, buoyancy is reduced.

Additionally, the water is also much colder, which can result in a swimmer, even an accomplished one, tiring much faster.

The characteristics of these ‘lakes’ to include unstable shoreline shelves and water composition have been attributed to several drownings which have occurred on the property.

The Manchester Township Police Department would like to remind the public that the Heritage Minerals or “ASARCO” site is private property. It is closed for recreational and/or other use and it is a criminal offense to enter or remain on the property. In the interest of public safety, the Manchester Township Police urges everyone to obey the “No Trespassing” signs posted at the site.

Trespassers are subject to substantial fines and penalties up to and including incarceration for being on the property."

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