Crews Search for Missing Swimmer

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EXETER TOWNSHIP -- The search for a missing swimmer in the Susquehanna River has been halted for the evening.

On Wednesday dive teams spent hours in the river looking for that missing man, in an effort that turned from a rescue to recovery.

Investigators in Luzerne County believe a Fourth of July cookout took a tragic turn for the worse after a man attending a holiday party went missing while swimming with friends.

Rescues crews were called to the Riverview Village Mobile Home Park in Exeter Township after the man went under water and didn`t resurface.

Woody Reeves lives in that park and said people don`t realize the dangers the Susquehanna River holds.

“It`s a tragedy again,” said Reeves. “About once or twice a year it seems here on the Susquehanna anymore. Most people don`t realize just how bad the current can be and the whirlpools that you can`t see.”

Tony Balconis said he was in his boat on the river when he saw the group of people swimming.

“I saw them swimming one minute and then the next minute he`s waving me over that his buddy drowned,” said Balconis. “He said their buddy`s in the water and could I help look for him. So I was searching and searching and searching, until I just about ran out of fuel.”

Dive teams from Germania, Lake Winola, and Tunkhannock entered the river from a boat launch a half mile away from the mobile home park as a state police helicopter hovered in the air above.

After spending hours searching, crews said the rescue effort turned to a recovery mission.

Balconis said he was left shaken by the sad event.

“It made me sick, it made me sick, people don`t, they don`t know the dangers of this river. You just don`t go jumping in it. I`ve seen too many drownings,” said Balconis.

The threat of severe weather temporarily halted the search as the dive teams were pulled from the water.

Many said their hearts go out to the man`s friends and family dealing with this tragic time.