A body discovered in the Delaware River last weekend was positively identified yesterday as that of John T. "J.T." Haggerty Jr., a South Jersey teen who jumped from the Benjamin Franklin Bridge last month following a police chase, authorities said.
Haggerty, 17, was a junior at Haddonfield Memorial High School.
A boater found Haggerty's body on Sunday on the bank of Petty's Island, which is part of Pennsauken, and notified Pennsauken police, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office said in a news release yesterday. The island is north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and south of the Betsy Ross Bridge.
Haggerty was identified through dental records.
Bill Shralow, spokesman in the prosecutor's office, said a New Jersey medical examiner yesterday determined the cause of death as drowning and the manner of death as suicide.
Haddonfield School District Superintendent Joe O'Brien said students at the high school were informed yesterday of the discovery.
"We're grieving. J.T. was a wonderful young man," O'Brien said, adding that he hopes people keep Haggerty's family and classmates in their prayers.
About 12:20 a.m. on April 8, Easter Sunday, Haggerty was spotted by Philadelphia police driving the wrong way on Arch Street near 7th in Center City.
After Haggerty failed to stop his car at the request of police, they pursued him. Haggerty drove to the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and got out of his car after it hit the median on the bridge, police said. He then jumped into the river.
During the five weeks since, Haggerty's own family and various recovery crews, including the Delaware River Port Authority police, the New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Marine Unit, the Coast Guard and the private Garden State Underwater Recovery Unit, searched for him.
A woman who answered the phone yesterday at Haggerty's mother's home said the family did not want to comment. *