New Jersey

New Jersey Pond Deaths of Grieving Mom, Young Son Were Accidental: Officials

A man who knows the mother said her husband was recently hospitalized with stage 4 cancer, while her brother and sister both died from COVID-19 within a two-week period last month

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What to Know

  • An NJ mom and her 11-year-old son were found dead in an icy park pond last week; their deaths have been ruled accidental
  • Tragedy has been heaped on the family; a man who knows the mom said her husband was hospitalized with stage 4 cancer, while she lost two siblings to COVID within two weeks last month
  • If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The deaths of a New Jersey woman and her 11-year-old son whose bodies were found in an icy pond last week after a 6-year-old boy was heard screaming for his mother have been ruled accidental, Morris County prosecutors said Tuesday.

A medical examiner report said, “There is no cause to believe there was any criminal activity involved in either individual's death,” the prosecutor's office said.

The developments mark the latest twist in a case steeped in a tragedy for a family wrecked by one horrifying crisis after another.

Warda Syed, 35, and her 11-year-old son, Uzair Ahmed, were discovered in a pond in the Upper Pond section of Grace Lord Park in Boonton around 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23. A 6-year-old boy, also confirmed to be Syed's child, was at the scene unharmed. A law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the case told News 4 he was screaming for his mother, which prompted others to call 911.

Syed and her children are all Boonton residents. She was a substitute teacher with the town school system, and worked in the after-school care program as well.

A woman in her 30s and her 11-year-old son were found dead in the Boonton park pond, while her 6-year-old son called for help and is left traumatized. NBC New York's Ida Siegal reports.

In announcing the grim discoveries last week, Acting Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll said that first responders "found footprints going into the water;" the bodies were discovered at the top of the waterfall that the river flows into. Authorities still haven't said how or why the pair entered the water.

Those who knew the family said Syed would sometimes go to the pond to feed ducks. Authorities found Syed's car in a nearby parking lot, not far from the banks of the river that locals said can run more than 20 feet deep in the retention pond.

Those who live in the area said they couldn't imagine anyone going into the river on purpose, no matter if it was summer or winter.

"Who wants to go in the water at this time of year anyway?" said Lexi Finn, who said the water is not clean. "You don't want to go in this water at all."

Dr. Abdul Raja said that the Syed family rented a second-floor apartment from his cousin. He said he was there days before the deaths to offer his support and condolences, as Syed's husband had been hospitalized with stage 4 cancer. She was shouldering an unimaginable pain and loss even beyond that.

"Her brother died of coronavirus two weeks ago. Her sister was a doctor, she died three days ago in Pakistan," Dr. Raja said.

Despite the heart-wrenching sorrow, he had said he didn't believe Syed was trying to take her own life. He thought it had to be an accident, saying he didn't know why she would have taken one child with her but leave the other. According to the latest report from prosecutors, it appears his hunch was correct.

"The detective said she did all the shopping — food, groceries, hair color, everything — and he said when people commit suicide, they don't do all these things," Raja said.

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, including at risk of suicide or self-harm, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
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