HAMMONTON — A body found Monday morning in Hammonton Lake was identified as Charles “Chuck” Carley, 45, whose family reported him missing Friday.
“It’s him. It’s definitely him,” said his father, Richard Carley, of Deptford Township, Gloucester County, after talking with officials from the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and Hammonton Police Department.
Richard Carley had waited at 884 Central Ave. for almost three hours for information on the body. The address is at a long private driveway back to the lake, and officials were preventing anyone from driving back to the site where the body was found.
Carley said his son was last seen by family members on Thursday.
“Him and his wife had a fight. He was pretty messed up,” he said of his son. “He’s been sick, and he can’t swim.”
Other family members who waited with Richard Carley, however, said Chuck Carley was not married but had been with the same girlfriend for almost a decade. They could identify her only as Rebecca.
Mayor Steve DiDonato said preliminary reports suggested Carley drowned accidentally, but that autopsy results and toxicology test results will be available sometime this week.
“I want to say it’s a sad and disappointing situation,” DiDonato said, “and that our prayers go out to the family.”
He said a resident who lives along the lake called police to report something that looked odd in the water.
DiDonato said Chuck Carley may have been staying temporarily in a campsite in the state-owned Smith Conservation Area, next to Hammonton Lake. His dad said he lived in Franklin Township, Gloucester County.
“It’s an area he should not have been camping in,” DiDonato said. “It’s unfortunate. We’re in touch with the DEP to make sure they monitor it with more patrols.”
Police officials would not comment publicly, other than to say the Major Crimes Unit of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office was investigating the cause of death and would issue a statement at some point.
Chuck Carley worked at Mazzarelli’s Lawn Ornaments on South Egg Harbor Road in Hammonton, his family members said. Mazzarelli’s is located directly across the road from the entrance to Hammonton Lake Park, but the body was located further north in the water, off of private property.
“I last saw him Wednesday. He was chipper and happy,” said his nephew Tom Imburgia, of Hammonton. “He was going food shopping with his girlfirend.”
Imburgia said the two had a tumultuous relationship for many years, and fought often; and that Chuck Carley had one child from a previous relationship, with whom he had no contact.
Richard Carley and his children, Richard, of Deptford; Christine Collins, of Franklin Township; and Donna Carley, of Clayton, Gloucester County; and other family members comforted each other on a sidewalk on Central Avenue after being informed Chuck Carley had been positively identified by officials, including Hammonton police Chief Robert Jones and Sgt. Kevin Ruga of the Major Crimes Unit.
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