A Coast Guard boat, responding to a distress call from a swimmer, searches the ocean waters off Harvey Cedars on Saturday. (Photo by Margaret Buchholz)

A 57-year-old educator from New Jersey died in the ocean off Loveladies on Long Beach Island on Saturday, September 10.

Coast Guard Station Barnegat Light was notified of individuals in distress in the ocean off Loveladies around 4.15pm, and although two young swimmers – the source of the initial report – managed to escape a rip current and make it ashore, Michael Carlucci was found deceased after a search of around 45 minutes.

Carlucci, who lived in Verona and spent his summers on the island of Long Beach, was swimming with his wife that afternoon. She finally left the ocean, which had recently been choppy and unattended in most places after Labor Day, as he continued to swim.

Coast Guard Commander Adam Murray said the first distress notification they received mentioned two children struggling in the water; then they were told that there might also be a woman. Shortly after, he said, “there was a report of a 57-year-old male.”

The two young swimmers and the woman got out of the water safely before the Coast Guard arrived, noted Murray, who also mentioned the energy in the ocean, a reference to the strong waves and the rips generated by Hurricane Earl.

Members of Carlucci’s family, lifeguards, local and state police, TowBoat US and the Coast Guard all rushed to the scene after the distress calls. A crew from Barnegat Light station arrived on a 47ft lifeboat and they searched the ocean near where Loveladies and Harvey Cedars meet, Murray said. The search continued for about 45 minutes before the crew learned that Carlucci had been found.

Passaic Valley Regional High School superintendent Bracken Healy wrote a letter to the school community about Carlucci, the school’s former STEM supervisor, and posted a copy on his Facebook page. “It is with deep sadness that I inform you of the sudden passing of a former administrator, colleague and friend of the PVRHS, Mr. Michael Carlucci,” Healy wrote.

“Mr. Carlucci was a teacher and coach for 26 years before joining the Passaic Valley administrative team in 2016. He was a passionate educator who truly enjoyed working with our students, staff and community. Mr. Carlucci helped to expand the STEM program at Passaic Valley Regional High School and was always focused on providing the best possible experience for those he served,” Healy continued.

“We have lost an incredible educator, a selfless individual and a friend to all.”

As one individual commented on Healy’s post, Carlucci was “such a nice man. Always with a smile. I will always have fond memories of him. May he rest in sweet peace. —JK-H. and GGS