Safety Urged After Delaware River Drowning

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BUSHKILL -- A 9-year-old boy drowned in the Delaware River late Monday afternoon.

Now, park officials are stressing the importance of wearing a life jacket.

The Pike County coroner says Michael Maxwell, 9, of Bushkill drowned in the Delaware River around 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Officials at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area say the boy wasn't wearing a life jacket when he slipped and got caught in the river current at the Bushkill access point.

"I had tears, it's tragic, for a family, for them to (lose) their son," said Lori Frendak of Bushkill.

Park officials say family members and a nearby boater tried to rescue the boy.

Park officials say a life jacket is a piece of equipment that can help save your life.

"If you're just wading in the water, you should definitely, without a doubt, have your life preservers on. It's a life saver," said Jim Bracht  of Newfoundland.

Other park visitors say the river can be deceiving.

"When it looks calm, what flows underneath is so much faster than it looks and there's debris under there," Frendak said.

Park officials say the 9 year old went out, slipped and the current took him 100 feet down the river. The rescue diver who found the boy's body says the thing about this river is the current is very strong and the river gets deep very quickly.

That diver, Michael Croll, showed us how quickly you can get swept away and then how deep the river gets. The boy's body was found in nine feet of water.

Croll advises that you wear your life jacket and if you get stuck in a current, "you want to float your feet downstream to fend off any rocks, so have your feet up high and slowly work your way towards shore, at an angle, with the current."

Croll said in more than 20 years on the job, he's recovered the bodies of 40 people, none wearing a life jacket.