The man who drove his truck onto the icy surface of the Toms River, only to have the vehicle fall through the ice, is facing a potential jail term of more than five years.
Andrew L. Mayer, 28, of Toms River, who was indicted on June 30, said at a brief court hearing Monday that he would be representing himself against animal cruelty charges brought by prosecutors since his dog died in the vehicle after it sunk off Pine Beach.
Though Superior Court Judge James M. Blaney advised Mayer to consider applying for a public defender or hire an attorney, Mayer insisted he did not want to get an attorney. Blaney adjourned the case to Dec. 7, 2015 to afford Mayer the ability to review his discovery and reconsider getting an attorney.
The prosecution provided initial discovery and a plea recommendation, making it clear to Mayer that the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office will seek a sentence of incarceration. Mayer has been charged with third degree animal cruelty and third degree criminal mischief, each of which could earn him five years in prison.
Prosecutors say Mayer acted purposely, knowingly or recklessly when he drove his pickup truck onto the ice March 1, and failed to provide necessary care for and protection of his dog from harm. Mayer then is alleged to have failed to notify authorities of the incident when he got safely to shore, resulting in a massive rescue operation that took place for hours involving the United States Coast Guard’s aviation unit, the New Jersey State Police aviation unit, state and local marine units, multiple local police departments, fire companies and first aid squads from Toms River, Beachwood, Pine Beach and Island Heights.