Missing rabbi found dead

His vehicle went into Hackensack River
March 6, 2008 6:24:15 PM PST
The search for a missing rabbi ended sadly Thursday.Ninety-one-year-old Rabbi Zev Segal disappeared Wednesday. Late Thursday afternoon, police found his body in his car after he apparently ran off the road into the Hacksensack River.

Eyewitness News reporter Anthony Johnson has the story from Jersey City.

For a good portion of the 20th Century, the rabbi was an important fixture in the Jewish community in north Jersey. At 91 years old, he was in great mental shape, and this appears to be an unfortunate and tragic accident.

On Wednesday, Rabbi Zev Segal was at a radio station, doing a show with his son at WFMU in Jersey City. After the broadcast, he left the station and disappeared around 8:15 a.m.

A huge search began. Until this morning, his family was holding out hope for his safe return. Their hopes were dashed shortly after noon, as word circulated among family and search volunteers that the rabbi's body had been found in his car in the Hackensack River.

The vehicle's location became exposed because of low tide.

"He was very, very well liked in the Lower East Side and always used to kibitz with everybody," Port Authority Police Rabbi Jack Meyer said. "There was no ever anybody telling him what to do. He had a mind of his own. He's going to be missed by everybody who knew him."

Police say there are no signs of foul play. They believe the rabbi got lost trying to make his way home.

Authorities say that in the past 25 years, two cars have gone off into the Hackensack River at the very end of this roadway, even though there is a steel barrier. Apparently in some situations, it doesn't work.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued the following statement:

"Like many New Yorkers, I knew of Rabbi Zev Segal's reputation as a scholar, as the builder of a strong Jewish community, and as a man who brought people together. But I also feel that I knew Rabbi Segal through his children and particularly through his son Nachum, who traveled with me to Israel to lead America's delegation for the dedication of the new Holocaust memorial and museum. From his children, I know that Rabbi Segal was a man of sharp intellect and strong character, great spirit and good humor. And I have no doubt that Rabbi Segal's sons and daughters built their joyful devotion to Judaism, to Eretz Yisrael, and to making the world a better place on the foundation that their father laid for them. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Segal family during this very difficult time. Baruch Dayan Emet ? may this family know no more sorrow."