Manasquan, N.J. — A 19-year-old man with autism was persuaded by two men to jump in an icy ocean and stay there for a minute in exchange for two packs of cigarettes and $20.
Peter Drake, of Howell, struggled in the frigid water for five minutes and nearly drowned. Apart from being diagnosed with autism, Drake also suffers from juvenile diabetes. When he plunged into the icy water, his insulin pump froze and stopped working, increasing the dangers of his stay in the cold Atlantic ocean. In an interview with Asbury Park Press, he told:
“I didn’t realize how cold or deep the water was going to be, but by the time I jumped in, I just went down. It was deep enough I couldn’t stand, and I had to be in there like five minutes.
“There were waves going over my head and salt water going down my throat. I didn’t really think I was going to make it.”
Drake’s mother, Christine Marshall, tried to file charges against the men who egged her son into jumping into the atlantic ocean. But the road to justice seems like a long, windy road.
Local authorities said that since Drake is an adult, and that because he voluntarily jumped into the ocean, technically, no crime was committed. Drake’s lawyer, Lisa Krenkel, told:
“What it brings up is, is it permissible, legally and morally, to offer someone money to place their lives in jeopardy, and it’s frightening, but the answer may be yes.
“Is it OK to offer someone like Parker, who has developmental disabilities, who clearly has a lot of physical and mental challenges in life, to offer him money? … That’s clearly what happened here.”
Drake’s mother hopes that the young men who took advantage of his son’s vulnerability will be brought to justice through a disorderly persons offense charge— but whether justice will rule in favor of the aggrieved still remains to be seen.
Contributed by Althea Estrella Violeta