The body of a 23-year old Plainfield man was found on Sunday morning in a body of water known as "Crystal Lake" in Manchester Township.

Edwin Caballero was visiting the Heritage Mineral property (about 7,000 acres of land) on Saturday, Manchester Police said, and went missing between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.

Manchester Police were dispatched to the “Crystal Lake” area around 10:00 pm Saturday night to investigate the report of a missing 23-year-old man.

At that time, police said family members were uncertain if Caballero had returned to the water, where he had been throughout the day or if he had walked into the nearby wooded area.

Manchester Police Officers and the local volunteer fire departments then searched the area along with a member of the Brick Township Police Department’s Drone Unit as well as members of the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit.

Shortly after daybreak on Sunday morning, investigators resumed their search which included looking in “Crystal Lake" by members of the New Jersey State Police Marine Services Unit.

Using advanced marine sonar, investigators found Caballero about 16-feet below the waterline.

The New Jersey State Police Technical Emergency and Mission Specialists recovered the body which was then determined to be that of Edwin Caballero.

The preliminary investigation indicates that Caballero entered the water and accidentally drowned.

Also assisting with the investigations were members of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crime Unit and the Ocean County Sheriff's Office Crime Scene Investigations (CSI) Unit.

Anyone who may have been at “Crystal Lake” and witnessed this incident is asked to contact Detective Christian Nazario of the Manchester Township Police Department’s Investigation Bureau at 732-657-2009 extension 4221 or Detective John Carroll of the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit at 732-929-2027.

Manchester Township Police want to remind everyone 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 hefty fines and penalties up to and including incarceration for being on the 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."


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