By John Burton
SANDY HOOK — A report of a lewd act witnessed by a park visitor who had been enjoying an evening on the beach resulted in an extensive search of Sandy Hook last Sunday.
John Harlan Warren, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said that at approximately 8:40 p.m. Sunday, a female visitor who had been lying or sitting on the beach at Parking Lot C near the entrance to Sandy Hook reported that she looked up to discover a man standing over her with his genitals exposed, committing a lewd act.
“She screamed, she ran,” and proceeded to call 9-1-1, Warren said. The alleged assailant attempted to grab the woman’s sweater or jacket as she fled, which would constitute an assault, according to the park spokesman.
When the 9-11 call came in, a Freehold-based police dispatcher contacted the federal park rangers and “within five minutes we had law enforcement on the scene,” Warren said.
Rangers contacted neighboring Highlands and Sea Bright police departments who sent officers. In addition, K-9 patrols from the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department and the Hazlet department responded, as well as sheriff and New York City Police Department helicopters to assist with the search.
Authorities closed the park and investigated vehicles exiting the park.
Law enforcement officials continued searching the park area for approximately three hours but “We did not find the alleged assailant,” Warren said.
As the other departments left, park rangers continued their search throughout the night, according to Warren.
“There were other people who saw him running after the woman screamed,” and authorities took their statements, he said.
“The investigation is ongoing,” at this point, Warren added.