Snowmobile driver killed in crash on Lake Hopatcong

EFFERSON TWP. – A snowmobile driver from Hopatcong was killed early Sunday when he was thrown from the vehicle after striking a rock on Lake Hopatcong, police said.

The victim was identified as Brian Petronaci, 39, of Hopatcong, Jefferson Detective Joseph Kratzel said in a release.

Police were asked around 1:40 a.m. Sunday to assist Hopatcong police in trying to locate Petronaci who earlier had taken his snowmobile onto Lake Hopatcong, Kratzel said.

Around 2:30 a.m., a Jefferson officer located the victim with assistance from Jefferson Township Fire Department Co. 2 and the township’s Office of Emergency Management, Kratzel said.

Kratzel said authorities believe Petronaci struck a rock jutting out of Lake Hopatcong that caused him to lose control of the snowmobile as he traveled near Liffy Island, a peninsula on the water that is located across from the Lake Forrest Yacht Club.

The impact with the rock caused the snowmobile to crash into trees on Liffy Island, Kratzel said.

Petronaci was pronounced dead at the scene, Kratzel said.

Other agencies assisting at the scene included Jefferson police, Jefferson Rescue Squad, Morris County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Section and Morris County Office of the Medical Examiner.

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