By Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven Councilman Jerome Koch died Sunday afternoon, succumbing to critical injuries from a Saturday afternoon bicycle accident, a statement from Mayor Ben Lucarelli said.
Well wishes flooded the Fair Haven Facebook page when it was announced that the longtime councilman had been medevaced to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune Saturday afternoon following the accident.
Then, at about 5 p.m., Koch’s daughter Kristen posted a message thanking people and saying, “My father loved Fair Haven wholeheartedly.”
After her message was posted, indicating a past tense (loved), several others posted messages of sympathy.
Lucarelli issued the following statement at 9 p.m.:
“On behalf of the entire Fair Haven Community, I extend my deepest sympathy to the family of Councilman Jerome Koch, who passed away on Sunday evening from injuries he sustained after being struck by a car on River Road in Fair Haven late Saturday afternoon.
“Councilman Koch was a dedicated public servant who served the residents of Fair Haven for nine years as a member of our Borough Council. More importantly, Jerome was a husband, father, and grandfather, who was dearly loved his by his family.
“His passing is tragic and he will be missed by all who knew and loved him. We send our best thoughts, prayers, and support, to his family during this time of mourning.”
Lucarelli said on Sunday morning that there had been no indication that the accident was anything more than a tragic no-fault incident. The mayor, an avid cyclist, mentioned that he had passed by Koch earlier on Saturday while he was riding with a group of cyclists.
A full investigation was launched involving borough police and the county’s Serious Collision Analysis Response Team, Lucarelli said earlier. Police have not released any further information. No charges have been filed against the driver, an unnamed woman who was driving a BMW with her daughter as a passenger.
Councilman Koch leaves behind his wife Betsy, a teacher at Knollwood School, Kristen, Kathryn (Katie) and son-in-law Erik Thorvilson, Jerome (Jake), Kerry and granddaughter Grace, the child of Katie and Erik.
“Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers,” said Kristen on the Fair Haven Facebook page at 9:30 p.m.. “My dad passed peacefully this afternoon.”
In addition to his service since 2006 to the borough in his official capacity, Councilman Koch was known for his keen wit and sense of humor.
Having served in the U.S. Army (1973-77), Koch was a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (BA) and Fairleigh Dickinson University (MBA) and was retired from his family business, Karl Koch Erecting Company, according to his obituary.
He was the council liaison to the borough’s Department of Public Works and Fair Haven Fields Natural Area.
Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will be writing a tribute to Koch. Anyone who would like to contribute is invited to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.