The body of a missing teenager was recovered from a lake in southwestern New Jersey, officials said Monday. The high school senior had been participating in a “scavenger hunt that went astray,” according to an online fundraiser set up on behalf of the family.
Officials identified the 18-year-old as Victor Rodriguez, a senior at Pitman High School. His body was found in Alcyon Lake in Gloucester County.
“It is with great sadness that after just over 17 hours of tedious and demanding work by many first responders, Victor has been recovered,” Pitman Mayor Michael Razze said in a statement. “The mutual love and support of our community will help to carry us through this difficult time. On behalf of the entire borough, our deepest condolences to his family, friends, fellow students, and the PHS Class of 2023.”
The search for Rodriguez started on Sunday night,. First responders were called to the lake shortly before 8:45 p.m. Sunday, Pitman Police Chief Dan McAteer said.
According to McAteer, the teen lost control while trying to swim across the lake and became submerged. There were two other people at the lake and both tried to help but became overwhelmed and came back to shore.
“My understanding is that it can be as much as 10 feet,” McAteer said of how deep the lake is.
According to a junior Pitman High School student, the teen was participating in what they call the “senior scavenger,” which the student said has gone on for more than 15 years
The student said one of the challenges is to swim across Alcyon Lake for points.
“Because it’s known for being nasty,” the student said, “so people are like, ‘swim across this nasty lake,’ and you get a lot of points for it.”
The search was handled by the New Jersey State Police, Gloucester County Emergency Management and other local police and fire departments in South Jersey.
No students were required to report to Pitman High School on Monday. The building remained open with emotional support services available to students throughout the day.
All exams scheduled for Monday and Tuesday were canceled.
A GoFundMe to support Rodriguez’s family has raised over $50,000.