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News from Monmouth County, New Jersey

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    Do you wear your Jersey pride on your sleeve? Your ink might have made our list.

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    The Sussex County freeholder board votes 3-2 in support of a resolution opposing legal weed. Watch video

    A divided Sussex County freeholder board approved a non-binding resolution opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

    The all-Republican board voted 3-2 in favor of the resolution on Wednesday night, joining the governing boards of at least three other counties -- Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth -- that previously declared their opposition.

    lazzaropng-433a3c8f78e3ae52.pngFrom left to right, Sussex County freeholders Carl Lazzaro, George Graham and Jonathan Rose at a meeting in 2017 (Rob Jennings / NJ Advance Media for 

    Freeholders Jonathan Rose and Carl Lazzaro, who ran as a team in the Republican primary in June and were defeated, took opposing sides on the resolution.

    Railing against what he described as the harm stemming from marijuana, Lazzaro said, "We don't need to have your mind altered to have fun," according to a video of the meeting posted by Sussex County.

    He took issue with the arguments of legalization supporters like Gov. Phil Murphy and others who have characterized marijuana as primarily an issue of social justice and fairness.

    "I see that what New Jersey's doing, not much different than what California did, is the quest for more money," Lazzaro said.

    "We can't control our spending habits and now we want to get more money, but yet we don't realize that all the money that will be garnered from this will be used in the administration of it, and there won't be any left over, and we've kind of legitimatized a way of life that doesn't lead to anything productive," Lazzaro said.

    Rose, on the other hand, voted against the resolution.

    "With the understanding that freedom can be scary and freedom can be dangerous, I am in favor of decriminalization at a minimum, and legalization at a maximum," Rose said.

    Rose criticized the so-called 'war on drugs,' singling out the prosecutions of otherwise law-abiding citizens for using marijuana.

    "Drug use is a complicated, difficult topic. I think that it is primarily a mental health issue and not a criminal issue. I think that when we look back at the war on drugs, it's been an absolute, unmitigated disaster for civil liberties," Rose said.

    Freeholder George Graham joined Rose in voting no on the resolution. In addition to Lazzaro, freeholders Sylvia Petillo and Herb Yardley favored it.

    The resolution merely offers an opinion; it would not have an impact should New Jersey legalize recreational use. 

    The freeholder board in Monmouth County, where Murphy lives, was the first to formally oppose legalization. It adopted a resolution in January.

    Similar resolutions were approved in February by freeholders in Ocean County and Cape May.

    As legislators continue to discuss legalization, New Jersey residents appear somewhat split on the issue.

    Quinnipiac University poll released in August found that while 62 percent are in favor of legalizing marijuana, only 50 percent want it sold in their communities -- while 45 percent said they didn't want it in their towns.

    Rob Jennings may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @RobJenningsNJ. Find on Facebook

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    Two swimmers died after they apparently tried to rescue another man from a creek in Hazlet Sunday afternoon, police said.

    Two swimmers died after they apparently tried to rescue another man from a creek in Hazlet Sunday afternoon, police said.

    Authorities rushed to a call that swimmers were in distress at Thornes Creek around 2:40 p.m. and found one man close to the water's edge, according to a statement from township police. Officers rescued that man, who was taken to an area hospital.

    "The caller stated that the man that was pulled from the water was yelling for help when two other men swam in his direction to help him," police said in the statement. "He said that's when they went under."

    Authorities deployed boats, a drone from the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office, and divers in an effort to find the missing men. Police said divers later recovered the bodies of both men.

    Detectives were working to identify the men and inform family members, according to police.

    Thornes Creek is located near the Henry Hudson Trail, running between Natco Lake and Raritan Bay.

    More details were not immediately released late Sunday.

    Noah Cohen may be reached at Follow him on Twitter @noahycFind on Facebook.


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    Dogs and cats at shelters await adoption.

    Holmdel volunteer wins international award in dog photography competition

    The Kennel Club in London recently announced the winners of its annual Dog Photographer of the Year competition with Sonya Kolb of Holmdel selected as the winner of the competition's "Rescue Dog" category.


    The award comes with a PS500 prize for the charity of the winner's choice. Kolb has chosen to donate the money to the Monmouth County SPCA, where she has been taking photos for seven years.

    The dog in Kolb's winning photograph is rescue dog Cooper, whose family adopted him after their first rescue dog tragically died before they had even brought him home.

    "I am extremely grateful to have won the Rescue category in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition," said Kolb. "I can remember every second of this photo shoot as if it were yesterday. This image reveals what is so important in life - our emotional connections with others. Dogs fulfill our deepest emotional needs, giving us so freely an abundance of love, comfort and joy. I love creating images that spread happiness and connect us heart to heart, hand to paw, with our most positive emotions."

    Monica van der Maden from the Netherlands was chosen overall winner of the competition with an image of Noa the Great Dane which placed first in the "Oldies" category. The other first place category winners were:

        Elinor Roizman, Israel, "Dogs at Play";
        Klaus Dyber, Germany, "Puppy";
        Carol Durrant, the UK, "Portrait";
        Tracy Kidd, the UK, "Dogs at Work";
        Joana Matos, Portugal, "Man's Best Friend";
        Dean Mortimer, the UK, "Assistance Dogs";
        Tamara Kedves, Hungary, "I Love Dogs Because...";
        Mariah Mobley (age 11), United States, "Young Pup Photographer"

    All of the winning images plus the photos that placed second and third for each category will be on display at the Kennel Club in London from through Oct. 5. To view all the winning images, go to

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

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    Bergen Catholic's reign is over. Who is the new No. 1?

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    The accident took place near Exit 98 in Wall

    Traffic is backed up for miles on the Garden State Parkway on Monday morning after a crash near Exit 98. 

    Northbound delays stretch at least 10 miles as of 8 a.m., according to, the state Department of Transportation's traffic website. says traffic is backed past milepost 84.9. The traffic site said to expect delays of at least 30 minutes. 

    Listen to on Alexa, or via a daily podcast

    Traffic is also building on Route 9 in northern Ocean County as motorists look for a way around the Parkway mess.

    State Police couldn't immediately be reached for information about the crash. 

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


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    Johnny's Pork Roll and Coffee Too will open a storefront in Red Bank early next month.

    Red Bank, are you ready for some pork roll - or Taylor ham?

    Johnny's Pork Roll and Coffee Too will open in the former Fizz Soda Fountain space in Red Bank "the beginning of October,'' says co-owner Johnny Yarusi.

    "We couldn't pass this up,'' Yarusi said. "It felt so right. As soon as I walked in there, I loved it.''

    Yarusi and co-owner Dan Strack had been negotiating for storefront space in Asbury Park when the owner of Fizz contacted them.

    "He reached out to us - 'I heard you guys were looking for a spot in Asbury,' '' Yarusi recalled.

    "It was very serendipitous,'' Strack added.

    That was just a month ago, and a deal was quickly struck. Fizz was a retro seven-stool, tin-ceilinged soda fountain that sold shakes, egg creams, sundaes, burgers and hot dogs.

    Johnny's Pork Roll and Coffee Too, which consists of two food trucks, makes a top-shelf pork roll sandwich; it placed 11th on our list of the Jersey Shore's 35 best boardwalk eats.

    The storefront will offer the same sandwich menu as the truck. Sandwiches include the Western, with provolone and sauteed peppers and onions; the Pulled Pork Roll, with sweet BBQ and Asian lime slaw; and the PBLT, with bacon, lettuce and tomato. And The Sandwich - a classic pork roll, egg and cheese.

    Soup - with pork roll, of course - and fries may be added to the menu eventually. The storefront will be open seven days a week, initially from 7 a.m. to 2 or 3 p.m.

    The business' name was recently changed from Johnny's Pork Roll Truck to Johnny's Pork Roll and Coffee Too to signal an emphasis on serving first-rate  coffee, from Asbury Park Roastery.

    Yarusi launched his food truck five years ago; he now has two trucks. One can be found at the North Eats food truck area, 7th and Boardwalk, Asbury Park.

    North Jerseyans will fuss about "pork roll'' being in the name, but that's what Yarusi calls it, even if he uses Taylor ham, a brand of pork roll.

    Yarusi and Strack are still hopeful they can open a storefront or stand in Asbury, in town or on the boardwalk.

    The Red Bank store will include a "pork roll timeline,'' tracing the breakfast staple's history starting with the birth of John Taylor back in 1836. John Taylor's Original Taylor Pork Roll dates to 1856. 

    Pork roll, Strack noted, predates Red Bank, which was incorporated in 1870.

    Peter Genovese may be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @PeteGenovese or via The Munchmobile @NJ_Munchmobile. Find the Munchmobile on Facebook and Instagram.

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    Two men who drowned while trying to save a friend in distress in a Monmouth County creek Sunday died when murky water and strong currents made rescue efforts extremely difficult.

    Two men who drowned while trying to save a friend in distress in a Monmouth County creek Sunday afternoon were identified Monday, as authorities said murky water and strong currents made rescue efforts extremely difficult for the pair, and for first responders. 

    Mark Gorski, 56, of Hazlet Township, and Zaidius Perry, 36, of Keansburg, were both swept away after jumping into Thornes Creek to save a friend, Ronald Williams, according to Hazlet Township Detective Michael Tristao. 

    Williams, 61, of Keansburg, went for a swim in the creek, and got tired on his way back to the creek line, Tristao said. 

    When Williams began showing signs of distress, Perry jumped in to save him. Perry also began to struggle, and Gorski jumped in to help both men, according to Tristao. 

    A fourth man, Sean Spead, 49, of Middletown also jumped in an attempt to rescue the friends. Williams made his way closer to land, but Gorski and Perry were swept away from the high current.

    "Spead was a pretty decent swimmer, so he made it out to the other two men but they began grabbing on his belt and almost pulled him down with them," Tristao said. 

    Thornes Creek

    Spead was able to free himself, swim back to land and call authorities around 2:40 p.m. Sunday. 

    Officers were able to pull Williams out of the water, but Gorski and Perry were no longer visible. 

    Divers from the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office were able to locate the two men at about 6:30 p.m., Tristao said. 

    "It's an all-around sad situation," he said. 

    Williams was taken to Bayshore Medical Center where he remained in stable condition Monday afternoon. 

    Thornes Creek is located near the Henry Hudson Trail, running between Natco Lake and Raritan Bay.

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find on Facebook.


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    Generous Jersey residents also donated supplies to send to the shelters down south.

    Dozens of strays and surrendered pets from the hurricane-ravaged Carolinas are headed up to New Jersey, while hundreds of pounds of pet food, cat litter and other supplies donated by Garden State animal lovers will be on their way down, animal welfare officials said.

    The Monmouth County SPCA has already received 20 dogs from various shelters in North and South Carolina that were flooded, lost power or otherwise damaged by Hurricane Florence, said Lindsay Sanator, media and marketing coordinator for the Monmouth SPCA.

    The animals being moved to New Jersey from the Carolinas had already been in shelters prior to the storm, through the usual process of having been picked up as strays by animal control officers or surrendered by owners who could no longer care for them, Sartor said. All will be available for adoptions in New Jersey, at the SPCA's shelter at 260 Wall Street in Eatontown.

    "None of the animals that we're taking have been displaced because of the storm," she said, "because we didn't want to be taking any animals whose owners might be looking for them afterwards."

    Sanator said two trucks outfitted to carry animals will head down to the Carolinas over the next few days to retrieve as least 30 more dogs from other shelters in the region.

    In addition, Monmouth SPCA has been collecting donations of food and other pet supplies that will be hauled down to the region to assist shelters inundated by the storm surge or heavy rains.

    "If dog food or cat litter gets wet, it's basically useless," Sanator said.

    More than 1,000 pounds of dry dog food and 200 boxes of supplies had been dropped off at the SPCA shelter and delivered by Amazon after being purchased by donors from a wish list available on the shelter's web site

    The Monmouth SPCA is a member of the Emergency Replacement Partner Program of the Humane Society of the United States, which links shelters and animal welfare agencies nationwide to coordinate responses to disasters.

    "We help the shelters in the disaster areas by placing the animals in other shelters around the country," said Brian Hackett, the Humane Society's New Jersey state director.

    Hackett said other participants in the network include the Animal Welfare Association of Camden County in Voorhees, the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter in Bridgewater, and the St. Huberts Animal Welfare Center, a network of facilities based in Madison.

    "It's quite a process making sure everyone is comfortable, all paperwork is in order and all travel crates are properly secured for the journey," St. Huberts posted on its web site on Monday, when 23 dogs "and 2 kitties" from the Carolinas were lodged at the Madison shelter.

    Hackett said interstate relief efforts like the current one served two main functions: to provide alternative quarters and adoption opportunities for animals whose shelters have been incapacitated by a disaster, crucial in regions where adopting a pet is all the more difficult for humans also impacted; and to relieve pressure on local shelters that continue to operate during a disaster -- or are trying to reopen as soon as possible -- that must deal with a rapid influx of newly displaced animals as a result of that hurricane, flood or other blow.

    If there is an animal welfare silver lining to natural disasters, Hackett said, it's that the higher profile that those displaced animals achieve makes it that much more likely they will be adopted, and that the plight of lost, abandoned and surrendered dogs and cats is more widely recognized by the potentially adopting public.

    "I think the animals that are transported or rescued during the disaster situations, they embody the hope of people to recover, to rebuild, to come together," Hackett said. "They put a spotlight on all of the animals around the country who are in need of homes."

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

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    Officials say the person was struck less than a mile from the Matawan-Aberdeen station.

    A person was struck and killed by an NJ Transit train late Monday night near the Matawan-Aberdeen station, officials said.

    The person, whose name was not released, was hit by a train traveling from Penn Station to Long Branch at 10:50 p.m. on Main Street, less than one mile from the station, NJ Transit Spokesman Jim Smith said.

    Smith called the person who was killed a "trespasser" but did not release any details on why they were on the tracks.

    NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line service was suspended in both directions between Hazlet and South Amboy as of 11:50 p.m.

    The incident was under investigation by the NJ Transit Police.

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



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    N.J. lawmakers want to ban smoking from boardwalks and other public places.

    Just two months ago, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation that banned smoking on the state's public beaches and in state-owned parks.

    Now, lawmakers want to take it a step (or several steps) further.

    The Garden State may soon add boardwalks and other outdoor public places to the list of places where lighting up a cigarette or a cigar is a no-no.

    The list includes, in addition to boardwalks, amusement parks, cemeteries, racetracks, sporting facilities, recreational areas, marinas, historic sites, and natural areas.

    State Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, and state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington, are pushing companion bills in the New Jersey Legislature.

    Some Shore towns already ban smoking on boardwalks, but this measure would make it a statewide prohibition.

    Do you think this is a good move? Should more places be free of second-hand smoke?

    Vote in our informal and unscientific poll and share your thoughts in the comments section.


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    They were arrested when they traveled to a Toms River home where authorities say they thought they were meeting up with a teen boy or girl

    Twenty-four men were arrested for allegedly chatting with and attempting to lure minors into sex during a week-long sting this month, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office announced Tuesday.

    Among the group was 47-year old Richard Conte, a police sergeant with the Howell Township Police Department, who thought he was chatting with a 15-year-old girl. He has since been suspended, authorities said.

    Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said members of the state's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force maintained profiles as 14- and 15-year-old boys or girls and were approached by the suspects. 

    Some men chatted with the undercover officers for a day or two before arranging a meeting, others talked for up to a week.

    The men started conversations on various apps and internet messengers, and over a one-week period earlier this month, they traveled to a house in Toms River where they expected to meet up with the teen -- alone.

    Instead, they were met by dozens of law enforcement officers and promptly arrested -- some by the undercover officers they had been chatting with, Grewal said at a press conference Tuesday morning.

    The men were arrested upon arrival to the residence or just outside of when they arrived for their scheduled meet-ups between Sept. 5 and Sept. 9, Grewal said. 

    Authorities dubbed the week-long sting "Operation Open House."

    "Surprised would be a fair way to categorize (the suspects')" reactions, Grewal said of the arrests.

    Grewal told reporters that the men varied in age, occupation and location -- some traveled upwards of 90 miles to meet the fictitious teenager.

    All of the men are charged with second-degree luring, and many face additional charges like second-degree attempted sexual assault on a minor and third-degree attempted debauching the morals of a child.

    Five men face third-degree charges of attempted sharing obscene materials with a child after they allegedly sent photos of their genitals to the undercover detectives.

    Grewal called on families to help monitor children who have online profiles, saying interactions with predators can start in messaging apps, social media platforms and even through video games with chat features.

    "We want child predators to know that we are on social media too - and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs," he said.

    Division of Criminal Justice Director Veronica Allende said that more than 30 law enforcement agencies worked on this undercover operation.

    "I commend our partners on the ICAC Task Force, particularly the State Police and Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, who coordinated this operation with the Division of Criminal Justice," Allende said.

    The list of suspects charged. All of the men were charged with second-degree luring, and additional charges are listed:

    • Mina G. Beshay, 27, of Monroe Township Beshay is a security guard and is also charged with attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor. 
    • Christopher Vargas, 29, of Toms River Vargas is a registered nurse.
    • Joshua Rauter, 31, of Little Egg Harbor Township Rauter is a municipal public works employee and is also charged with attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Joseph Martin, 35, of Seaside Heights Martin is unemployed and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Richard Hoffman, 23, of Mays Landing. Hoffman is a firefighter and a college student.
    • Volvi Lowinger, 23, of Lakewood. Lowinger is a college student and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor. 
    • Thomas Graciano, 28, of Brick. Graciano is a physical therapist in a retirement community.
    • Thomas Blumensteel, 47, of Manchester. Blumensteel is a hotel manager and a registered sex offender. He was sentenced to three years in state prison in New Jersey in 1997 for aggravated criminal sexual contact for sexually assaulting a boy, 13, whom he was supervising as a church counselor. He was also charged in this case with attempted sexual assault on a minor and has been detained pending his trial.
    • Richard Conte, 47, of Farmingdale. Conte is a police sergeant with the Howell Township Police Department. He has since been suspended from his job and was ordered to home detention. 
    • Thomas Fuller, 44, Toms River. Fuller is an assistant manager/sterilization technician and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    •  Zachary Vincent, 24, of Forked River. Vincent is a landscaper and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • William Singleton, 24, of Pemberton Township. Singleton is a restaurant worker and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Jonathan Vece, 22, of Turnersville.  Vece is a canvasser and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Lawrence Ivancic, 51, of Toms River. Ivancic is unemployed and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Robert Lisicki, 51, of Metuchen. Lisicki is a train conductor and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Dylan Daffron, 28, of Lacey Township. Daffron is a cashier at a retail store and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child and attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Steven Portnoy, 27, of Egg Harbor Township. Pornoy is unemployed and also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • David Studnicky, 64, of Toms River. Studnicky is employed as a dry cleaner and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor, attempted debauching morals of a child, attempted showing obscene material to a minor.
    • Anthony Perfidio, 24, of Barnegat. Perfidio is a data entry clerk.
    • Brian Degnan, 33, of Toms River. Degnan is a data entry clerk.
    • Nabindranauth Nandalall, 24, of Bronx, N.Y. Nandalall is unemployed.
    • William D. Davis, 23, Bayville. Davis is a consultant.
    • Charles Schlottfeld, 26, of Bayville. Schlottfeld is a mechanic and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.
    • Douglass Walton, 54, of Hillsborough. Walton is employed in produce and is also charged with attempted sexual assault on a minor.

    Paige Gross may be reached at pgross@njadvancemedia.comFollow her on Twitter @By_paigegross 

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    Suzanne Demo, 20, was ordered held pending trial on aggravated arson and other charges in the fire that killed two pets

    A woman accused of starting a fire at the Monmouth County townhouse where she lives must remain jailed pending her trial.

    A state superior court judge ruled Tuesday that 20-year-old Suzanne Demo poses a risk to the public. She's charged with aggravated arson, assault with a deadly weapon and animal cruelty in the Sept. 9 blaze that severely damaged the home and killed two pets.

    Listen to on Alexa, or via a daily podcast

    Monmouth County prosecutors say Demo was angry that her father refused to give her $50, and she responded by setting her bedroom in her family's Marlboro townhouse on fire.

    Demo's attorney says his client has a history of addiction and she wants to go into rehabilitation.

    Her attorney says "when she's sober, she's a fine person."


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    When the family of Mark Gorski got the news that he'd drowned in a Monmouth County creek, their response was not unusual: shock, sadness and disbelief.

    When the family of Mark Gorski got the news that he'd drowned in a Monmouth County creek, their response was not unusual: shock, sadness and disbelief. 

    When his sister, Lisa Clements, learned the details of her older brother's death, however, that he'd jumped into the creek after a friend began to struggle, she said the manner in which he died did not come as a surprise. 

    "No one was shocked that Mark did that," Clements said Wednesday. "He would give you the shirt off his back."

    Gorski, 56, and friend Zaidius Perry, 36, both drowned in Thornes Creek in Hazlet on Sunday afternoon when they jumped in trying to save a friend in distress. The friend, Ronald Williams, 61, was eventually rescued.

    Gorski_ 2.jpg

    Gorski's identical twin brother Gary, with whom he lived, was also on the fishing trip, but decided to fish from a location about 200 feet away.

    When Gary Gorski saw emergency responders speed past him, Clements said he had no idea they were en route to try to rescue his twin brother. 

    "Gary is not taking it well. He thinks he should have been there," Clements said. 

    The brothers are part of a family of six siblings, all born within a 15-year period. The large Gorski family grew up just a few miles from Thornes Creek.

    A cousin that works for Union Beach Emergency Management was part of the nearly four-hour rescue effort, Clements said. 

    Clements, who lives in South Carolina, said the community is stunned that Gorski's life was cut short. 

    "We are all still trying to process what happened. Everybody is floored that Mark didn't make it because he was so strong," Clements said of her brother, who worked in construction. 

    "Of course we feel sorry for the other family as well," she said. 

    Perry's family told WABC that Perry, a 36-year-old father of four, had a similar character as Gorski, that he would be willing to make such a sacrifice for others. 

    "He would do that," Perry's dad, Stanley Qawiy told ABC7. "He would jump in the water to try to help someone."

    Funeral arrangements for Perry were not immediately known. 

    Services for Gorski will be held at Ryan's Funeral Home in Keansburg on Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

    Clements said the family is accepting donations for funeral costs in lieu of flowers, that can be sent to the funeral home and addressed to her parents, Bob and Dorothy. 

    Gorski twins.jpgGary Gorski, left, and his twin brother Mark Gorski, right

    Clements said she and her family are doing their best to grieve in the way Gorski would have wanted. 

    "We've been crying but also laughing. You have to find some humor in it because these next days are going to be so heavy."

    Alexis Johnson may be reached at Follow her on Twitter @alexisjreports. Find on Facebook.

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