18-year-old Indian American in New Jersey Who Went Into Frigid Pond to Retrieve a Soccer Ball Drowns
- Clinten Ajit, 18, was found dead in the Hardcastle Pond on April 22 night after he tried to help kids playing nearby.
An Indian American teen from New Jersey died last week in a frigid pond after he suddenly went underwater. Clinten Ajit, 18, a senior at New Milford High School, was found in the Hardcastle Pond on April 22 night after went into the water to retrieve a soccer ball for kids playing nearby. Emergency workers recovered his body about three hours later, news reports said.
Ten-year-old Sam Rueda who saw the tragedy unfold told CBS News that when Ajit entered the pond, “the water went up to his waist,” and then “up to his neck.” After eyewitnesses couldn’t see him anymore, they called 9-11. They told the police that “someone went swimming in the borough-owned Dorchester Lane pond but hadn’t resurfaced,” as reported by CBS News.
New Milford Mayor Michael Putrino said “there are no words that can describe the pain that this family is going through right now.”
Friends and strangers stopped by the pond over the weekend “to leave flowers at a small, but a growing memorial,” CBS News reported. Those who knew Ajit said he was “a smart and kind kid.”
His classmates, like many others in the town, were in disbelief. “He was a passionate kid. He had his whole life ahead of him,” said Aram Bavoukian, a senior at New Milford High School.”They’re all in shock,” Bavoukian said. “Like, it was so quick. You go from, like, we all had classes with him a couple of hours before.”
Neighbor Mary Lukas told CBS News that she is praying for the family. “I was up all last night just thinking about that poor mom and what she had to go through.”
Police are still investigating the events leading up to the teen’s drowning.
Gabriella George, a family friend from Weehawken who organized a GoFundMe fundraiser, described Ajit as an inquisitive, intelligent young man with a passion for animals who knew “everything about everything.”
He was born on January 22, 2004 in Niranam, Kerala, to Ajit Mathew and Annamma George. He immigrated to the United States with his parents and an older brother in September 2012 when he was 8.
Apart from school, the “intelligent, humorous, and kind young man enjoyed participating in musical theater, band, and various sports,” according to the fundraising page. In the fall, he was enrolled at Montclair State University to study criminal justice.