South Amboy mourns the loss of two young men

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By JACQUELINE DURETT
Correspondent

SOUTH AMBOY — There was a somber tone to the June 1 City Council business meeting.

A couple days prior to the meeting, the city lost two young men. Jesse Flynn, 22, passed away from a heroin overdose on May 29, and Hugh Riley Rone, 19, died May 31 in a motorcycle crash in Tinton Falls on the Garden State Parkway.

According to his obituary, Flynn, a Parlin resident, graduated from the city’s high school in 2012 and worked as an installer for the family business, Petra Overhead Door Co. He had an 8-month-old daughter, Charlee Quinn, and planned to adopt 2-year-old Riley Aiden.

Rone, the son of a funeral director, whom he planned to follow in the footsteps of, graduated from the same high school last year. Rone, known as “Riley,” had been a varsity athlete in soccer, baseball and basketball while at the high school and was a student at Middlesex County College at the time of his passing.

Officials acknowledged the losses at the meeting, and some shed a few tears.

“I can’t imagine what they’re going through — what either family is going through at this point,” Mayor Fred Henry said. “I don’t know if we’ll (ever) find out why any of these things happen, but they do happen.”

Henry encouraged residents to take advantage of opportunities to help people who may be in emergency situations, like the blood drive at St. Mary’s held over the weekend.

“My heart goes out to the families,” added Councilman Tom Reilly.

“These two young men passed away under very different circumstances, but both were tragedies,” Business Administrator Camille Tooker said.

Tooker also advocated for more efforts to be made to prevent drug abuse, both in South Amboy and around the country. She said she knew each decade had its “drug of choice,” but the heroin epidemic is not discriminating at all.

“This just seems to be hitting across the board no matter what your age is, no matter what your economic background is, no matter what your profession is. It just boggles my mind,” she said.

Tooker said she would welcome the opportunity to participate in a regional consortium to look at ways to address the problem.

“When you hear Walmart is going to start carrying [opiate antidote] Narcan … you know it’s a problem,” she said. “We’re losing too many good people.”

“You are 100 percent right, and I am totally committed to whatever we can do,” Council President Mickey Gross said.

Gross also said he was particularly close with the Rone family.

“This one hurts, it really does,” he said of Rone’s passing, calling the teenager “a good kid.”

“It rattles me,” he said.