Monday, March 24, 2014

Funeral set for missing Pomona man found dead in park 


A funeral service will be held Monday afternoon for Peretz Sontag, the missing Pomona father of seven whose body was found Sunday by a hiker in Harriman State Park.

Sontag had been missing since March 14. Sontag's body was found after family members insisted on another sweep, officials said.

Monday's service will be at 2:30 p.m.. at the Hellman Memorial Chapel 15 State St. in Spring Valley, said Rockland County Legislator Aron Wieder, who is serving as a liaison for the Sontags and had been active in the recent search efforts.

After the service, the body will be buried in Israel, where he had lived before moving back to Rockland County.

Sontag's body was located in his black 2012 Kia Optima after it apparently traveled over a ravine, Wieder said. He was told the area had been combed before by volunteers around the time Sontag disappeared, but the car was difficult to spot and a nearby road was closed to the public, he said.

"What can I tell you? It's just a tragedy," Sontag's uncle, Shimon, said shortly after receiving the news. "They're all distraught. It's a mess. You've got seven children. The whole family is heartbroken."

He added that authorities were not treating his nephew's death as a homicide.

Sontag's body was found near Lake Welch Road after at least 50 volunteers had gathered and hikers were also told to be on the lookout, Wieder said.

"They thought that if he's here in the park, he would not be alive anymore. They wanted closure," said Wieder, who was with two family members when they were told Sontag's body had been found. "We came back full circle to look one more time. This particular area was difficult to get to and a hiker was the one who found him."

He added that authorities don't expect foul play in the death of Sontag, 50, who was described by those who knew him as a kind-hearted person among the area's Orthodox Jewish community and a man devoted to charitable causes.

Ramapo police informed Sontag's wife, Tammy, that her husband's body had been found, Detective Lt. Mark Emma said. He confirmed that Sontag was located in his car off a roadway in the park. Authorities had last week pinged his cellphone and received a signal from a cell tower in the Stony Point area, which includes Harriman State Park.

New York State park police were said to be investigating the death. Spokesmen for the agency did not respond to requests for comment.

Ramapo police have said Sontag was depressed and had made reference to harming himself before disappearing. A friend and neighbor of Sontag's, Chesky Ostreicher, said before the discovery that Sontag ran off because of depression brought on by a failing business. Financial issues had forced the family to move back to Pomona from Israel, Ostreicher said.

"I don't even want to think about why he did this," Shimon Sontag said of his nephew.


Peretz Yehuda I'm heartbroken, your are a loss of a very special Yid, you will be missed by so many of us, not only by your family and friends in Monsey but also by Klall Yisroel world wide. You touched the lives of so many of the needy, they always knew that they had someone to turn to, the Tzedokos and tremendous Chasodim you and your wife have done in this world for Klall Yisroel will accompanying your Neshomah on it’s way up to Shomayim, they should be an everlasting Zechus for you and your family! the family should be comforted.


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