A man faces possible criminal charges in connection with an intensive search by police, firefighters and the U.S. Coast Guard for a pickup truck that cracked through the ice and sank in a southern New Jersey river, authorities said.
Andrew Mayer, 27, of Toms River, the driver of the truck, was questioned by police after the search, said New Jersey State Police spokesman Sgt. Greg Williams. He was released, but charges are pending, he said.
A bystander called police at about 12:15 a.m. Sunday after seeing the small truck drive onto the frozen Toms River and begin a series of "donuts," investigators said. The truck's headlights and brake lights could be seen from the shoreline. As the truck headed for the opposite side of the river, the lights disappeared, police said.
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Area police and firefighters searched for the truck and were joined by a helicopters dispatched by the Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police. The submerged truck was spotted at about 10:20 a.m., about 100 feet from shore, police said.
A rescue diver was lowered to the truck and found a dead boxer-mix dog inside, police said. The dog belonged to Mayer, police said.
The multi-agency search cost "hundreds of thousands of dollars," a police source estimated.
A passenger in the truck, Daniel Joly, 25, also of Toms River, told investigators that he argued with Mayer about driving on the frozen river and got out of the vehicle, Willams said.
Investigators suspect alcohol may have been involved when the driver of the truck took it out onto the ice, said Maj. Robert Yaiser, the state police commanding officer for special operations.
The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office ultimately will decide whether to file charges in the case.