Hoboken, while close to New York City, doesn’t experience much violent crime itself. Often, the biggest news surrounds Carlo’s Bakery (home of “The Cake Boss”). The city’s lack of violent crime only serves to highlight a surprising statistic for 2014: already, three people have died from drowning in Hudson County.
This sudden upsurge hasn’t been the norm — the New Jersey Medical Examiner’s records show that only three people died from drowning between 2009 and 2011 — less than one drowning death per year. The recent up-spike has left many wondering whether the city takes enough measures in order to prevent drownings from happening in the future.
In April, a double-drowning took place when one young man jumped into the river, and his friend attempted to save him. A few months later, 27-year-old Andrew Jarzyk went missing after running along the waterfront — his body appeared four weeks later in a ferry slip.
According to Juan Melli, the city’s spokesperson, the city has been taking on several projects with the intent of securing the waterfront and promoting safety for those visiting it. Orange signs against the river’s railings warn about the river’s strong currents, and 45 water rescue throw bags have been ordered for the city’s fleet of squad cars.
An NBC investigation that took place while Andrew Jarzyk was still a missing person found that, although the waterfront once had a camera system, it was allowed to lapse back in 2010. As a result of the investigation, eight new cameras have been ordered. Without the tape from the cameras, it is still unknown how Jarzyk ended up in the water after going for a run.
Many residents, though, are not convinced that this will be enough. Part of the problem with Hoboken’s waterfront is the railings that prevent people from entering the Hudson — they also make it very difficult to exit from the water, and the water itself is unpredictable and quickly moving, with a current that makes rescues difficult.
“[It’s] a shame that little thought has been given to enabling emergency exit from the water,” said Hoboken resident Alan Welner in a recent letter to the editor, published in the Hudson Reporter. He believes there should be ropes, additional small boat launches for rescue vehicles, and steps in the bulkhead walls to enable escape.
New York City, meanwhile, tends to have more stringent laws and policies in place to prevent drownings from occurring. Even so, many preventable tragedies occur every year when people and children enter unsafe or unsupervised water areas.