Grieving mother of 41-year-old Hull man who drowned wants answers

A grieving mother is looking for answers after her 41-year-old son drowned after he jumped into frigid waters in an attempt to elude Hull police officers who were trying to talk him out of the bay.

Jeffrey Lilja’s body was recovered by State Police divers on Sunday, three days after he jumped into Hull Bay.

A search-and-rescue mission started around 11:35 p.m. on Thursday after Lilja fled on foot to avoid talking to a police officer and ran into the water.

When police tried to de-escalate the situation and get Lilja to come out of the water, he refused and swam deeper into the bay until officers lost sight of him, according to a statement.

Police said they immediately called the Hull Fire Department to begin a water search to locate the man, but Lilja’s mother Linda Tuscher said she wasn’t informed that a disturbance at her home had turned into a search-and-rescue mission for her son until the next day.

“We’re five houses away from the bay. We were all laying in bed listening to the helicopters all night long and I had no idea it was for my son,” Tuscher said.

“I don’t know why we weren’t notified sooner,” Tuscher continued. “I just keep picturing him drowning in my head over and over again, screaming ‘I’m drowning’ and no one helping him.’”

Police were called to Lilja’s home late Thursday for a report of a dispute over the misuse of the family car. He left the home during the argument and a police pursuit ensued. When police found him on a nearby street, he talked to two unidentified men, police said.

Tuscher said she was notified at 7:30 a.m. Friday that Lilja went into the water, where police lost sight of him.

“I can’t imagine no one trying to help him but then why didn’t they tell us that night that he had drowned? Why did they wait until 7:30 the next morning to come to my house and tell me they believe my son had drowned?” Tuscher asked. “That’s what making me so upset. Why wasn’t I notified at 11:20 that night?”

What followed was three agonizing days of worrying and not knowing. Finally, just before 3 p.m. on Sunday, State Police located Lilja’s body about 200 feet offshore in about 16 feet of water.

His 15-year-old daughter learned the news from a television report.

Tuscher called her son a “good-hearted person” who loved his two teenage children dearly, spending hours every night cooking a family dinner with his daughter.

Lilja struggled at times with addiction, the family said, and had several run-ins with the law, but his mother said he was working toward recovery.

Hull Police, reached via a spokesman, referred questions to Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz.

Cruz’s office did not respond to questions on Monday afternoon.

The family has set up a Facebook fundraiser to help cover funeral expenses.

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