A suitcase containing tefillin and other valuables was recovered from the bottom of a Lakewood river on Friday morning, two days after their owner fell into the water.
A businessman returning from work Wednesday night was walking along Lanes Mill Road, which does not have a shoulder, when he heard a vehicle approaching quickly behind him. Instinctively, the man moved off the road, not realizing that on the other side of the guardrail was a 15-foot drop down to the Metedeconk River.
The man toppled over the guardrail, falling into the river, which is off the Garden State Parkway leading to both Lakewood and Brick townships. Miraculously, he was only slightly bruised from the fall. He called the Lakewood Hatzolah, who treated him on location for his injuries.
However, the suitcase he was carrying at the time, which had his tallis and tefillin, a laptop and other valuable items inside, had fallen into the water and disappeared. His family contacted Lakewood Chaveirim, which dispatched their search-and-rescue team. Assisted by the Lakewood Police and Brick Township, which redirected traffic near the site, Chaveirim members set up special emergency scene lighting and began their search.
The suitcase was found on Friday morning, when the search team switched to using a kayak and special water equipment.
According to Chaveirim, the tefillin are probably not salvageable, but the man said he is happy that they were found.
“At least I know that the tefillin I wore for so many years will receive proper kavod in genizah,” he said, declining to publicize his name.