South River man found alive in marshes after three days


SOUTH RIVER–A 63-year-old borough man was found and rescued in the marshes of South River.

On July 24, just before 1 p.m., Detective Sgt. Peter Roselli said the South River Police Department received an emergency call from three individuals who were cruising on the river.

“It was actually three individuals on two jet skis and they were just cruising around the river back and forth. They stopped at one point just to talk and fortunately the location that they stopped they were able to hear a call for help,” Roselli said.

South River and Sayreville police assisted in the rescue, along with a Perth Amboy police boat, a Sayreville fire and rescue boat and a New Brunswick police officer who was on the boat with Perth Amboy police, according to Roselli.

“We were unable as a police department, along with Sayreville [police] … to get eyes on him. We couldn’t even hear him. The jet skiers were just going back and forth and we just maintained the phone contact with the jet skiers to see if they continued to hear anyone calling. They said that they still heard someone and they didn’t even see him,” Roselli said.

Roselli said if someone goes into the reefs in the marsh/swampland it is difficult to find his/her way out.

“The only thing [one of the jet skiers] said he was able to see was areas of Sayreville. We were still trying to get an idea of the exact location, but we [didn’t] know whether it was South River or the jurisdiction of Sayreville that he was in,” Roselli said.

Roselli said the South River Rescue Squad was dispatched and stationed in the area. The New Jersey State Police’s Trenton Unit helicopter also assisted in the rescue.

The man was treated by the Sayreville Rescue Squad, according to Roselli.

“Basically, I believe there was a dehydration issue, but most of the issues were just irritation to the skin being exposed to the damp conditions and bugs,” Roselli said. “He was transported to a local hospital by Sayreville the day of the incident and upon being recovered he was released that night.”

Roselli said the man was in the marshes since July 22 and was conscious and alert when he was rescued.

“[The man] said some people told him that there are some trails that are basically across the street from his house. So he decided to say, ‘Oh let me just take a walk’ so he went for a walk through the trails and during that time he brought his phone with him and unfortunately his phone died while out on the trails,” Roselli said. “After walking for a while he just became confused and overwhelmed with the conditions and he just got lost and he was out there for three days.”

Roselli said the man had no food and in order to stay hydrated the man licked water off of the plants.

“We spoke with him [on July 25] and he is in good health, he is happy [and] he can’t stop saying how lucky he is,” Roselli said.

Roselli said the police department will not be doing a criminal investigation.

Contact Vashti Harris at

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