The body of 10-year-old Francisco Perera was found around 3 p.m., near the base of the Route 27 bridge in nearby Highland Park, New Brunswick police Capt. J.T. Miller said. The body of 11-year-old Devine Nicholas was found about three hours later, not far from where Perera was discovrered.
The two New Brunswick boys, who were last seen by their family members early Sunday night, had been the subjects of an intense search involving numerous law enforcement agencies. It was not immediately clear what caused their deaths, and authorities would not provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
However, officials said there was no evidence of foul play.
Carol Leonard, Nicholas' mother, told reporters that her son did not know how to swim. She said he had gone to Perera's house around 1 p.m. Sunday, and the pair apparently left there around 6 p.m. and said they were headed to a local park.
Leonard said that as far as she knew, the boys did not regularly go to the Raritan's banks. She described her son as a fun and outgoing "good kid" who brought home all As and Bs in school.
"They didn't have any business going to the river," she said.
Jennifer Smakolski, of Franklin Township, told The Star-Ledger of Newark (http://bit.ly/O1UqXv) that she was walking along the banks of the river Sunday night when she saw the two boys in the water, walking away from the shoreline. She said they were in the water up to their ankles and, concerned for their safety, she asked them if they knew how to swim.
Smakolski, who was with her 5-year-old daughter, said both boys told her they could swim. So she moved on, assuming that they would not wade much farther into the low-lying river.
When she and her daughter returned to the river area on Monday night, not long after the second body was found, Smakolski was stunned to learn of the tragedy.
"I'll be thinking about this forever," she said through tears. "If only I'd stayed a little longer."