A New Jersey family has experienced another tragedy after far too many of them in recent weeks. Warda Syed, 35, and her 11-year-old son, Uzair Ahmed, were found dead in a river in Boonton's Grace Lord Park on Tuesday evening after a passerby called 911 to report that a 6-year-old boy was crying out for his mother, according to the Morris County Prosecutor's Office. Police, who believe the deaths were unintentional, located the bodies by following footprints that led into the water from Syed's vehicle, per NJ.com, which reports officers first found Syed's 6-year-old son standing near the riverbank. A man said to be a cousin of the family's landlord tells NBC New York that Syed's husband is in hospital battling Stage 4 cancer. Syed's sister died from coronavirus in Pakistan days ago, less than two weeks after Syed’s brother succumbed to the same illness, the man adds.
He also cites a detective as saying Syed had shopped for "food, groceries, hair color, everything," suggesting she did not commit suicide. NBC reports she would sometimes feed ducks at the river. The site features signs warning of a steep drop as well as an emergency call box, per WLNE, and CBS2 notes that the walkway to the river was icy. It's a "horrible situation," says Acting Morris County Prosecutor Robert Carroll. "We're going to spend some time on this and do a thorough investigation," adds Morris County Sheriff James Gannon. Syed worked as a substitute teacher with Boonton Public Schools and in the after-school program. "We are heartbroken at the loss of our community member, parent, and fellow staff member Warda Syed and our 4th grade student, her son Uzair Ahmed," the superintendent says. (Read more New Jersey stories.)