A 29-year-old mother died after she leaped into the Merrimack River in Massachusetts to rescue her 6-year-old son, according to WCVB-TV in Boston.
The family of six was fishing and swimming off the shore of Deer Island, between Amesbury and Newburyport, around 7 p.m. Thursday when the 6-year-old fell into the water after he apparently tried to reach for something, police said.
Seeing him get carried away by the current, the boy’s mother and 7-year-old sister jumped into the river to rescue him — and the water took them as well.
When the children’s 31-year-old father reached the water’s edge, he too jumped into the river in an attempt to rescue his wife and children “but could not and quickly got in trouble himself in the water,” police said, according to WCVB.
After encountering trouble in the waters, the man was able to make it back to shore. Police said he was hospitalized at Seabrook Hospital in nearby Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he received treatment for exposure and hypothermia.
MSP Dive Team and Marine Unit back at Merrimack River this morning with @NewburyportPD and @NewburyportFD to resume search boy, 6, who went missing last night. Two other family members, who presumably entered water to try to save boy, were rescued by a boater. pic.twitter.com/iy65dPDfvZ
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) June 10, 2022
The Massachusetts State Police responded to the incident around 7:18 p.m. after receiving reports that the water had swept away multiple individuals. A search for the boy, his sister and his mother was launched with the MSP Air Wing, Marine Unit and Dive Team.
“The initial 911 call indicated that the incident may have been involving a boat or watercraft,” Newburyport officials said in a statement, The Boston Globe reported. “However, it was quickly determined that the family, consisting of parents and four children, had been on land and that there was no boat-related emergency.”
The swift currents dragged the mother and daughter westward, past the Whittier Bridge connecting Amesbury to Newburyport, WCVB reported.
A local fisherman eventually found the duo. Upon noticing the boat, the woman helped hoist her daughter onto it, with the fisherman’s help, but was unable to get onboard herself.
She went underwater and was later found unresponsive and not breathing by rescue personnel, WFXT-TV reported.
The mother and daughter were hospitalized at Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport. The daughter survived, but the mother died.
The boy remained to be found. Authorities paused the search for him at 11:37 p.m. on Thursday.
On Friday morning, the Coast Guard, harbormasters, state police, local police, state environmental police and fire departments across the region resumed the search after it turned into a “recovery mission,” according to WBTS-TV and WCVB.
“We’ve seen several tragedies on the river, but not usually where a whole family is affected. It is a sad situation, and we had a lot of hope [Thursday] night. A lot of agencies — state agencies, local agencies — put a lot of effort into trying to find this 6-year-old,” Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire said.
The names of the victims and their family members had not been released early Friday afternoon.
“At the time, it was just the end of high tide, the river can be moving at a quick pace,” LeClaire said.
“The area is known for fishing and swimming and other recreation. [There] is a rocky ledge in the river, and it is quite heavily used especially this time of year,” the fire chief said.
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