JEFFERSON — The body of a 24-year-old man who fell off a pontoon boat into Lake Hopatcong on Saturday night was recovered on Monday.

The man, identified as Jason Gill of Mt. Arlington, fell in the state's largest fresh water lake near the Main Lake Market in on the Jefferson side of the lake at the end of New Jersey Avenue around 7:40 p.m. according to State Police.  A search was started on Saturday night but suspended because of visibility and lightning in the area.

The operation resumed on Sunday morning using a helicopter, side-scan SONAR sub-surface detection equipment, the State Police TEAMS Unit and rescue boats from the Jefferson Fire Department.

The operator of the pontoon, Nicholas Zarantonello, 24, of Lake Hopatcong, was charged with with boating under the influence and released pending a future court date.

Search & recovery effort on Lake Hopatcong
Search & recovery effort on Lake Hopatcong (Dan Gunderman via Hopatcong Lake Regional News)

State Police said Gill's body was found by a boater in the search area and recovered around 6:30 a.m.

State Police and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office continue to investigate the incident. The Morris County Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy to determine a cause of death.

A GoFundMe page was created by Morgan Laidlow to help his family with funeral arrangements.

The drowning took place in an area of Lake Hopatcong that remained under an advisory to avoid swimming because of high levels of harmful algae bloom. Boating is not affected by the advisory.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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