Man sentenced in fatal boating incident

Jefferson. Nicholas Zarantonello of Lake Hopatcong was intoxicated when one of the passengers of a pontoon boat he was driving fell overboard and drowned.

26 Oct 2020 | 03:56

Nicholas Zarantonello, 25, of Lake Hopatcong has been sentenced for his involvement in a fatal boating incident that occurred on Aug. 3, 2019.

Zarantonello was sentenced on Oct. 23 by Superior Court Judge Stephen J. Taylor to three years probation, conditioned upon 364 days imprisonment in the Morris County Correctional Facility and completion of 200 hours of community service. Zarantonello must also forfeit his right to operate a boat for one year and to operate a motor vehicle for three months.

Zarantonello had previously entered a guilty plea on July 20, 2020, to one count of third degree Strict Liability Vehicular Homicide before Judge Taylor. He also entered a guilty plea to the boating regulation violation of Operating a Vessel Under the Influence.

The charges arise from a single-vessel boating incident that occurred on Lake Hopatcong in Jefferson Township. The investigation revealed that Zarantonello was the driver of a pontoon boat on Lake Hopatcong with two passengers. While traveling on Lake Hopatcong, one of the passengers went overboard and did not resurface. His body was located in the water in Lake Hopatcong on Aug. 5, 2019.

Further investigation revealed that Zarantonello had consumed alcohol prior to operating the pontoon boat and was intoxicated at the time of the incident.

Acting Prosecutor Robert Carroll said members of the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey State Police Marine Services Bureau, and the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit contributed to the successful prosecution of the case.