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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Susan Kirk is swimming around Manhattan on Saturday as part of the '20 Bridges' marathon swim.

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    Going to the beach? So are they, so be on the lookout.

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    The man barreled over the driver's hood and windshield.

    Authorities identified on Friday the victim who was killed by a car Wednesday night in Marlboro as 23-year-old Domingo Crux-Chan of Freehold. 

    Crux-Chan was walking in the area of a legal U-turn on Route 9 just north of Covered Bridge Road at 10:15 p.m. when he was hit by a 2001 Dodge Intrepid, according to a statement from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. 

    Crux-Chan barreled over the driver's hood and windshield before falling onto the right lane of Route 9 southbound, the statement said. 

    Authorities pronounced him dead at the scene around 10:44 p.m. 

    The driver of the Intrepid, who was not charged, wasn't injured. 

    The investigation is being led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office and the Marlboro Police Department. 

    Authorities urged anyone with information to contact Detective Kristian DeVito of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Marlboro Police Cpl. David Ruditsky 732-536-0100 Ext. 1090.

    Alex Napoliello may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find on Facebook.


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    The single-engine Cessna touched down around 10:25 a.m. in Keansburg due to engine trouble

    A small plane made an emergency landing on the beach in Keansburg after experiencing engine trouble on Friday morning, officials said. 

    Video from WABC-7 shows the single-engine Cessna 172M sitting on the sand after touching down around 10:25 a.m. 

    It's unclear if either of the two people aboard were hurt.

    The plane is owned by John J. Doherty of Metuchen, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. 

    A Keansburg police dispatcher said no one was immediately available to provide additional information. 

    The FAA said it's investigating. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    A massive barrier across the mouth of New York Harbor is just one proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the area against future major storms.

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    Don't feel bad about your low Twitter follower count -- these New Jersey celebrities may have had inflated totals because of bots. Now they're losing them.

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    Vans Warped Tour played its last Jersey date at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel Saturday. Read the recap, see videos and epic photos

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    Most districts in New Jersey will get more state aid. But not everybody will.

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    Croatia, France fans crowd Monmouth Park sports bar for final. Watch video

    T.J. Barustowicz bet a few bucks that Croatia soccer star Mario Mandzukic would score a goal in the World Cup final.

    He did. Two. One for his team and one for France.

    On the list of proposition bets at Monmouth Park for the World Cup final, Manzukic was listed as an 8-1 favorite to score the first goal. He did, when the ball went off his head into his own net.

    So Barustowicz didn't collect on that one. But he collected the 4-to-1 odds when Mandzukic scored for his own team.

    Barustowicz was in the Monmouth Park sportsbook early, before the coffee was even hot, before the crowds filled every seat in the place and stood three deep at the bar.

    He's a soccer fan but not a bettor.

    "Only on fantasy baseball," said Barustowicz, who was wearing a Red Bulls hat and an Asbury Park Soccer Club shirt with the smiling face of Tillie, the unofficial Asbury mascot. "I've been losing in the same league for 20 years."

    But the novelty of betting on soccer drew him to Monmouth Park, which was holding its inaugural World Cup after New Jersey legalized sports betting earlier this year.

    "I came to bet on Croatia, and place a bet on France for my father," he said.

    He bet on Mandzukic to score, and his dad bet on Antoine Griezmann. So both collected.

    MORE: Recent Mark Di Ionno columns 

    It was an untypical morning at the sports betting bar. The crowds don't usually come in until baseball games start in the afternoon and the first horse races go off.

    But by 11 a.m., there were about 350 people in sports bar, which is capacity, and another 200 hovering near the TVs in the sports betting area outside the bar.

    "The World Cup crowds have been really good," said Paul Wedel, the manager of the bar in the sports betting parlor. "Even some of the low-level games drew pretty good crowds."

    Many had never bet on soccer before.

    A low-scoring game, soccer has been intriguing to gamblers used to betting football, basketball and baseball.

    The Monmouth Park Sports Book, run by William Hill, has a "How to Bet Guide" where soccer is on the second-to-the-last page, before boxing and after hockey.

    "People are still trying to figure it out," said one pari-mutuel manager, who asked not to be identified because he was unauthorized to speak for the track. "They're not used to the game, but we're happy to explain."

    In Sunday's morning line, France was favored by half a goal. The under/over was two goals. The money line made France a 3-to-1 favorite. Simple enough. But those were all for a 90-minute game. The prospect of overtime and penalty kicks made it more complicated. And then there were the proposition bets, everything from the number of corner kicks, the number of yellow cards given (for egregious fouls), or if the game would be won in regulation, overtime or by penalty kicks. And, of course, which players would score.

    "It makes the game more interesting to watch," said Abe Farrg, who came with two friends, from Long Branch, "but I'm a soccer fan. I have season tickets to the Red Bulls."

    But it can be confusing. Matt Ritter of Middleton also had Mandzukic to score a goal, and when the ball went off his scalp into the French net, he wasn't sure whether to celebrate or not.

    His friend, Rob Sim, set him straight: It was or not.

    But when Mandzukic put one in for his team, Ritter exploded with joy. Not because he won. Because he broke even.

    "I cleared my bets, so I'm happy," he said. "I got my money back."

    Ritter liked the odds and bet Croatia, like much of the crowd. Several fans were wearing the team's signature red-and-white checkered jersey, and each time France scored, the groans were as audible as the cheers.

    On 13 of the betting parlor's 23 big-screen TVs, all eyes were riveted on the game.

    Almost no one seemed interested in the Wimbledon men's final, where Novak Djokovic was defeating Kevin Anderson, and less were interested in harness racing from Saratoga.

    And when Find the Money romped to the finish line during the first race at Monmouth on Sunday, there was no reaction. Minutes later, the crowd erupted as Croatia tied the game.

    The same thing happened when Gins and Tins won the sixth race, just as France teed up a penalty kick. All eyes were on Griezmann, who blasted a shot past the Croatian goalie, paying off 2-to-1 odds that he would score.

    And that's how it went. Before the game started, lines to place bets stretched across the bar. When the game ended, the line to cash in tickets was little more than a trickle.

    In that way, it was a typical day in the sports betting bar.

    Mark Di Ionno may be reached at mdiionno@starledger.comFind on Facebook.

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    Dogs and cats throughout New Jersey await adoption.

    We accept dogs and cats to appear in the gallery from nonprofit shelters and rescues throughout New Jersey.

    If a group wishes to participate in this weekly gallery on, which is completely free of charge for qualified groups, please contact Greg Hatala at

    Greg Hatala may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.

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    Whatever a lynx is, it's really cute and Great Adventure just got three. Watch video

    Do you know what exactly a lynx is? If you do, great. If not, don't worry about it. All you need to know is they are absolutely adorable, and Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson just got three of them.

    The park announced Monday the arrival of three new Eurasian lynx cubs, two females and a male weighing two pounds each, for the Safari Off Road Adventure.

    Females "Patches" and "Laila" and male "Ovi" can be seen at the park's Camp Aventura, and they are expected to grow to between 30 and 50 pounds. Eurasian lynx are born with dark ear tufts, are native to cold climates and have webbed feet to help them walk on snow. They are indigenous to Siberia, Asia and Europe.

    2.jpegThe three lynx cubs that have arrived at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson.

    Camp Aventura is home to countless young animals, making it one of the cutest attractions at the park and will help make the new lynx feel right at home.

    The lynx are now one of more than 70 species at the safari park, including ferocious felines like Bengal and Siberian tigers and African lions. But if big cats aren't your thing, you can enjoy giraffe feedings, sea lion presentations, the Soaring Eagle Zip Line as well as countless other birds, mammals and reptiles in the park.

    Overall, there are 1,200 animals from six continents at the park including elephants, rhinos, tigers, giraffes and lions, making it one of the most unique theme park attractions in the country. Once a separate ticket, the safari is now included with general theme park admission.

    Jeremy Schneider may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @J_Schneider. Find on Facebook.

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    The boy died and his mother was treated for a gunshot to her leg.

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    Dorbrook Recreation Area is temporarily shut down and camps are canceled until at least noon

    A man in a standoff with police at a house in Colts Neck has forced officials to close nearby Dorbrook Recreation Area.

    Officials from multiple agencies, including the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team are on the scene along Route 537, according to Chris Swendeman, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office. The man is barricaded in the house. 

    Route 537 is closed in the area of Laird Road and Hockhockson Road, officials said. 

    All programs and camps at Dorbrook are canceled until at least noon.

    Additional details about the standoff were not immediately available

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    A family dog also died in the blaze

    One person was killed when a fire swept through a single-family home in Middletown on Tuesday morning, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said. 

    A dog also died in the fire, spokesman Chris Swendeman said. 

    The person will be identified after all family members have been notified. 

    Neptune 2 of 2.JPGFirefighters battle a house fire in North Middletown on Tuesday morning. (Middletown Fire Department) 

    The fire broke out just before 7 a.m, and was brought under control by 7:22 a.m, the Middletown fire department said. 

    A neighbor called 911 to report the fire. When firefighters arrived, all four sides of the single-family home were engulfed in flames, the Middletown fire department said. 

    More than 50 firefighters from six Middletown fire companies assisted. 

    Additional information about the fire will be released later Tuesday, Swendeman said. 

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find on Facebook.



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    Aubree Larusso, 18, was found dead in her bedroom located off of the living room of the home at 20 Neptune Place

    An 18-year-old woman died Tuesday morning when a fire broke out in a Middletown home, authorities said.

    Aubree Larusso, 18, was found dead in her bedroom located off of the living room of the home at 20 Neptune Place, according to a press release from the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office.

    Larusso's mother, brother and a family friend escaped the blaze unscathed, but a dog was found dead in the home.

    The fire was reported at 6:43 a.m. and was brought under control by 7:22 a.m, the Middletown fire department said.

    An investigation determined that the cause of the fire was accidental, according to the prosecutor's office.

    A neighbor called 911 to report the fire and when firefighters arrived, all four sides of the home were engulfed in flames, the Middletown Fire Department said. 

    More than 50 firefighters from six Middletown fire companies assisted including East Keansburg, Port Monmouth, Belford Engine, Belford Independent, Middletown Fire Co. 1 and Lincroft.

    Friends and family of Larusso express their grief for her on social media including family friend including Christy Lee Jones.

    Her friend Dashawn Williams said she was "into photography and loved every type of music."

    "She was a fun-loving girl, she was a sweet soul, she will truly be missed," Williams told NJ Advance Media.

    Larusso's cousin, Casey Kwiatkowski, set up a GoFundMe page for her.

    "My beautiful cousin Aubree along with their family dog lost their lives due to a devastating house fire," Kwiatkowski said on the page. "Anything to help the family that made it out would help tremendously."

    The fire is under investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, Monmouth County Fire Marshal's Office and Middletown Police Department.

    Anyone who witnessed the blaze or has information was asked to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office Detective Kevin Condon at 800-533-7443 or Middletown Police Detective Albert Scott at (732) 775-1996.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find on Facebook.

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    The Freehold Raceway Mall will offer a paid lot with 60 spaces on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Weekend shoppers who don't want to hunt for parking or hike across a crowded lot now have an option at Freehold Raceway Mall: cough up $5 for prime spots.

    "It's only on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, our busiest time, when people are really searching for parking," said Debra Panzarella, a spokeswoman for mall, located on Route 9 in Freehold Township. 

    The paid lot is part of a nationwide trend for malls across the country, she said. New Jersey's biggest mall, for example, the 2.1 million-square-foot Garden State Plaza in Paramus, offers valet parking for $10, and even a car wash while you shop.   

    But, the Freehold paid lot is for self-parking, where shoppers park their own cars and hold onto their keys.

    Temporary signs mark the area and price of the paid lot, which is staffed by an attendant from AmeriPark, a parking lot operator contracted by the mall's owner, the Macerich Company. Macerich also owns the Deptford Mall, though paid parking has not yet arrived at that location.

    Panzarella said the Freehold paid lot includes 60 spaces, located just outside what's known informally as the carousel entrance, for the mall's ornate two-story merry-go-round. It's between the entrances to Macy's and Nordstrom's, two of the 1.67 million-square-foot mall's anchor stores.

    Panzarella said the location of the paid lot was chosen for logistical reasons, not the stores it's near.

    What's going on? Ask Alexa what's happening around New Jersey

    The spaces in the paid lot will continue to be free on weekdays, and two handicapped-only spaces within the lot will remain free to handicapped shoppers on weekends, Panzarella said. The mall's 8,940 other parking spaces will remain free at all times, Panzarella said.

    Like many new retail initiatives, the paid lot drew a mixed reaction from shoppers on its first weekend in business, Panzarella said.

    "You do have people who don't necessarily understand the program, or are not happy," she said of the lot, which can spare users a walk of several blocks, depending how full the entire mall lot is.

    "And then you have other people who like it and park there. Or if they don't want to, they can walk."

    Many on social media were not pleased.

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook.

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    Ex-players and officials for Sky Blue FC, whose majority owner is Gov. Phil Murphy, say in a report the team is plagued by poor housing, subpar facilities and mismanagement.

    Former players and a former coach for a New Jersey professional women's soccer team whose majority owner is Gov. Phil Murphy say the team has been plagued by poor housing, subpar facilities, and mismanagement, according to a report Tuesday by a soccer news website, which called life at the club "bleak."

    Players for Sky Blue FC -- which is based in Tinton Falls and plays home games at Yurcak Field at Rutgers University in Piscataway -- have lived in houses with plastic bags for windows and sometimes are made to sleep in bunk beds, according to the report by The Equalizer. 

    The team also uses facilities at Rutgers that don't include a shower, according to the report, which cites interviews with a half-dozen people affiliated with the team, some of whom requested to remain anonymous. 

    Sources add that players have had to "hound" the team about paying medical bills for injuries they sustained while playing, according to the report.

    And because the team has no laundry services, players have sometimes worn dirty gear during practices, the report said.

    Former player Caroline Stanley told The Equalizer she believes "it would just be best for everybody if they dissolved as a club."

    "Their owners can find a new tax write-off," she told the website.

    A second report Tuesday, from SB Nation blog Once A Metro, also cited former players -- two anonymously -- saying conditions surrounding the team have been dismal in recent years.

    Murphy talks sports with NJ Advance Media

    Murphy spokesman Dan Bryan declined to comment to NJ Advance Media on Tuesday, deferring to Sky Blue, which plays in the National Women's Soccer League.

    Mary Smoot, a spokeswoman for the team, says Sky Blue "believes in the transformative power of women's soccer, and we're proud of our longstanding commitment to our players, fans, and community."

    "Sky Blue FC is committed to providing our players with the full support and resources they need to succeed both on and off the field," Smoot added. "We take any concerns from our players seriously and are actively engaged in discussions with players and team leadership to ensure their voices are heard and their concerns are addressed."

    Murphy, a die-hard soccer fan and former Wall Street executive worth millions, is one of three owners of Sky Blue. He's listed as the majority owner.

    But Murphy told Soccer America last week that he is "not deeply" involved in running the team and that co-owner Steven Temares is "more actively involved."

    "And obviously, we have a professional staff at the general manager and business side as well as the coaching staff," Murphy, who became New Jersey's governor in January, told the website. "I'm intensely involved on the capital side, but less so on operations."

    Temares, the CEO of Bed, Bath & Beyond, declined to be quoted for The Equalizer story.

    Tax returns show Murphy has lost about $5 million on Sky Blue over the years, including about $523,000 in 2016.

    Murphy has said his investment in the team was never financial -- he simply wanted to show his daughter that soccer is not just a men's sport.

    Among Sky Blue's players is soccer icon Carli Lloyd, a Delran native and Rutgers graduate who was traded to the club in January. 

    Former assistant coach Dave Hodgson told The Equalizer the team's facilities are such a problem that Lloyd, a World Cup champion, has had to get an ice bath in a 50-gallon trash can.

    The focus on the club's upkeep appears to stem from a game on July 7, when ex-player Sam Kerr -- now a member of the Chicago Red Stars -- returned to Piscataway to face her former team.

    Kerr was openly critical of the club in comments to reporters.

    "I wish things were better here," Kerr, who was part of the Lloyd trade, said after scoring a hat trick in a Red Stars victory. "I'm just going to say the girls deserve better, and I'm just going to leave it at that."

    Hodgson told The Equalizer that player housing last year "was a disaster." 

    "Like one of the houses that players had to live in just should have been knocked down," Hodgson told the website. "Plastic bags for windows, sheets of cardboard for windows, comforters stuck in holes in the wall. I'm not exaggerating. Stuff like that's horrific."

    Team general manager Tony Novo told the website that housing is a challenge in New Jersey, where the cost of living is among the highest in the nation. Novo added that housing "has gotten better over the last three years."

    A source with Sky Blue told NJ Advance Media that team officials met with players this week to address concerns.

    The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also stressed that some of the housing complaints in the story stem from previous years and that the league's housing cap of $57,400 is difficult to meet in the state's market. 

    Housing this season has been upgraded and training facilities are also being improved, the sourced added. 

    Former players also allege that Sky Blue's owners are disconnected from the team's operation, according to the Once A Metro report.

    One anonymous player quoted in that report said she met Murphy only once in the many seasons she played for the club.

    "And it was for five minutes," she said. 

    NJ Advance Media staff writers Matt Arco and Steve Politi contributed to this report.

    Brent Johnson may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @johnsb01. Find Politics on Facebook.

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    A plan approved by the Eatontown Planning Board on Monday would convert the mall to a mixed-used community known as The Heights at Monmouth.

    Home shopping could take on a whole new meaning under a redevelopment of the Monmouth Mall that will transform it into a mixed-used complex with 700 apartments. The plan was approved by Eatontown officials on Monday.

    The mall, which dates back to 1960 and has undergone two previous makeovers, will be known as The Heights at Monmouth under a $500 million joint plan by the Kushner Companies and Brookfield Properties, partners in the project.

    A spokesman for Brookfield, Andrew Brent, issued a statement applauding the Planning Board's decision.

    "The redevelopment will create a vibrant, thriving mixed-use center for years to come, and we are grateful to the Eatontown planning board for its approval of the project and its confidence in us to execute it," Brent stated.

    With other issues still pending, Brent said no time frame had been established for the start or completion of construction.

    The Monmouth Mall may become a thing of the past

    Kushner had been headed by Jared Kushner until last year, when his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, gave him the job of White House Advisor.

    The Eatontown Planning Board voted 7-1 to approve the project, which will include the rental apartments, dining and entertainment venues, medical facilities and retail, the board's attorney, Andrew Bayer, said.

    "The board was voting on an application for preliminary and final site plan approval for an application based on a zoning ordain that the council adopted in September 2016," Bayer said.

    The council's approval of the zoning change is the subject of a lawsuit by four residents of the borough's Woodmere neighborhood adjacent to the mall site, asserting, among other points, that the ordinance is contrary to the borough Master Plan.

    The suit, filed in state Superior Court, is still awaiting a decision by Monmouth County Assignment Judge Lisa Thornton a year after a trial held in July 2017. 

    "Now that this process has passed, we still have to wait for that decision," said  Mayor Dennis Connelly, who sits on the planning board and voted to approve the project on Monday.

    Ask Alexa

    Because the project lies at the junction of routes 35 and 36 and Wykoff Road, all state highways, it must also receive state Department of Transportation approval.

    Residents opposed to the project created a Facebook page and have seized on Kushner's White House connections in dubbing the approval process "Mallgate," accusing officials of putting the powerful and politically connected developers' interests ahead of the residents of the borough.

    Connelly, a lifelong Eatontown resident, is a retired borough police sergeant who said he made hundreds of shoplifting arrests at the mall.

    But petty crime notwithstanding, Connelly said allowing the mall to grow and prosper was critical to the borough's financial future. Connelly said the mall already contributes about $5 million a year in county, school and municipal taxes -- the biggest taxpayer in a borough, which has a total budget of around $24 million.

    The one no-vote Monday was cast by the planning board's borough council liaison, Councilwoman Bridget Harris, who has expressed concern for the large number of rental apartments included in the project. Harris did not return requests for comment on Tuesday.

    But Connelly downplayed Harris' concern, arguing that the project's residential component would help the borough meet its affordable housing obligation, with 44 apartments set aside for people with low and moderate incomes. 

    "This satisfies several things for the borough," Connelly said. "The unfortunate part of this is, there's a lot of hard feelings, and i feel for the residents that didn't want this so close to their homes. But the best interest for the future is keeping the mall secure."

    Steve Strunsky may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SteveStrunsky. Find on Facebook

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    You're not alone in the water this summer. Meet the jellyfish going you at the Jersey Shore.

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    At least 1 inch of rain fell on 21 towns during Tuesday's thunderstorms and one town had a report of 4.55 inches

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