A man has been indicted for allegedly driving his pickup truck on the frozen Toms River in March, killing his dog when the truck sank and setting off a frantic search for the vehicle's occupants.
The Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said 28-year-old Andrew Mayer, of Toms River, was charged with animal cruelty and criminal mischief in an indictment unsealed Tuesday.
According to prosecutors, Mayer tried to drive his truck on the icy river on March 1, but the vehicle cracked through the surface, plunging into the water.
The incident spurred an intense search for the truck's occupants, with crews from the U.S. Coast Guard, New Jersey State Police, and local police departments and fire companies working for hours to try to find Mayer and a passenger.
Mayer didn't notify officials that they had gotten to shore safely. That led to "a substantial interruption in public emergency services," the prosecutor's office said in a statement.
Rescue crews recovered the body of Rolo, Mayer's pet boxer mix, trapped in the submerged truck. Prosecutors contend that he "knowingly or recklessly failed to provide necessary care for and protection of" the dog.
Authorities said Mayer had been released on his own recognizance pending future court hearings.