Nearly 100 people gathered Monday to remember the life of a New Jersey high school student who jumped into a pond Friday to get a soccer ball that had fallen in the water and never resurfaced.
Clinten Ajit, who attended New Milford High School and lived in the area, went into Hardcastle Pond in New Milford to get the ball around 7:15 p.m., according to police. The 18-year-old's body was recovered less than three hours later.
Raw emotion and floods of tears filled St. Peter's Mar Thoma Church in Washington Township for Ajit's memorial Monday. His family was inconsolable.
An old family friend designated to speak on their behalf said the Ajit family is originally from India but had been in the New Milford area for nearly a decade.
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They, and the young man who died, were described as staples of their community.
A close friend of the victim's mother says her older son taught Ajit at Sunday School in the same church where his funeral was held Monday. She described the young man as a "good Samaritan, a wonderful boy, very respectful and caring."
"He died trying to help a friend ... and that was his way," she added, referring to his deadly effort to get the soccer ball back.
An investigation into Ajit's death is ongoing. At its deepest points, the pond where he apparently drowned is 12 to 15 feet deep.