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Sullivan/Orange County drownings prompt earnest reminder for water safety precautions

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

POND EDDY, NY – Those who patrol and respond to calls on stretches of the Scenic Upper Delaware River were grateful throughout much of this summer as thousands of recreational users safely enjoyed the river and other local bodies of water and safely returned home. That lengthy, much-appreciated time period was broken during August and September as multiple emergencies and tragedies struck swimmers and boaters in this New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania region. Several lost their lives in the rivers and lakes of the region.

One teenage victim was recovered from the Delaware River on August 27, just a short time after he, while swimming with his family and friends in Pond Eddy, Sullivan County, NY, went under and did not resurface.

According to NPS, a family group from Ozone Park, NY were rafting on the river when two individuals went in the river to go for a swim. Both were not wearing life jackets. The individuals were observed in distress. While one individual was rescued, the second was observed to go under the water and did not resurface.

The emergency call came in around 2:17 pm and National Park Service Law Enforcement Rangers and boat operators, divers, and EMS from Sullivan and Orange Counties, NY and Pike County, PA quickly responded to the scene. Within a brief time, the second swimmer’s body was located and recovered near the New York side of the river, about a quarter mile north of the Pond Eddy Bridge.

As they do routinely, the National Park Service which patrols the river and emergency responders remind all to always wear a life jacket while on or in the river.
“Out of the 75 drownings in the park since 1980, 55% were related to swimming and none of the victims were wearing a properly fitted and fastened lifejacket at the time of their death. High summer temperatures draw people to go into the river to cool off, but the river can be deceiving with swift river currents just beneath the surface and sudden steep drop offs that can cause even the strongest swimmer to panic leading to tragic consequences. Park staff recommend that all river users always wear a properly fitted life jacket at all times when on or near the river. It is the one piece of safety equipment that will save a life when worn properly and is in good condition.”
National Park Service -- Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River

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SHARON SIEGELSenior Correspondent

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