HIGHLANDS, NJ - Police recovered the body of Richard "Ricky" Pomasan Saturday evening in the water near the Oceanic Bridge.  Pomasan,  of Miller Street in Highlands turned 53 on Friday.  He was a clammer for many years on Sandy Hook Bay.

Pomasan and Paul M. Ritter, 42, of Highlands had been drinking earlier in the day in celebration of Pomasan's birthday, according to his sister-in-law, Johnna Pomasan, also of Miller Street.

highlands_bridge_construction
Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge under construction in October 2009. Photo shows elevation between old and new bridge decks.

In a press release issued Saturday, before the body was discovered, Highlands Police said they received a call regarding a man that had jumped off the South side of the Highlands Bridge at approximately 6:45 p.m Friday.  Eyewitnesses observed a man jump off the bridge and was not seen coming back up to the surface.  Police issued a summons Friday to Paul Ritter for obstructing and hindering the ongoing investigation, according to the release.

Search and rescue efforts were conducted by Highlands Police, Sea Bright Police, NJ State Police Marine and Aviation Division, U.S. Coast Guard, NYC Police Department Aviation Unit, Highlands Fire Department Marine 17-01, Highlands First Aid, Atlantic Highlands Fire Department Marine Division, Middletown Township Dive Team Units, Sea Bright Fire Department and Sandy Hook Gateway National Park Rangers.

The search was called off late Friday night due to high winds and a moving tide and was resumed Saturday morning.

For generations, area residents jumped off the old Highlands-Sea Bright Bridge as almost a rite of passage.  The bridge then stood about 35 feet above the water line.  The new bridge, still under construction, stands 65 feet above the water.

"I don't know if you'd call him a friend," said Mrs. Pomasan of Mr. Ritter.  "A friend doesn't drive you drunk to the bridge and tell you it's a good idea to be the first to jump."

The investigation is ongoing and police would not comment on whether Mr. Ritter or Mr. Pomasan had been drinking.

It is especially hard on the family at this time.  Ricky Pomasan's younger brother, David, died last month at age 41, according to the sister-in-law.

The body was discovered by a boater on the Navesink River South/Southwest of the Oceanic Bridge at about 6:20 p.m. Saturday, according to Highlands Patrolman Matthew Chesek, who helped recover the body along with the U.S. Coast Guard, State Police Marine and Highlands Fire Department Marine boats.

Mr. Pomasan leaves behind a 17 year old son.  Funeral arrangement have not yet been made.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Highlands Detective Sgt. Joseph Rogers at 732-872-1158.