BARRYVILLE – A swimmer who went missing in the Delaware River late Sunday afternoon, July 4, has not yet been located. The area where the 17-year-old camper from Peekskill went missing is along Cedar Rapids Campground shoreline in Barryville.
A 16-year-old Cedar Rapids worker who witnessed the water incident said he was working near the shoreline when he noticed a young man in the water. He saw a Cedar Rapids Campground guest take his paddleboard into the river to assist the man. As the paddleboarder reached and attempted to help the man, they were both swept down the river and through an expansive stretch of rapids yards away and also near the beach area.
The young worker and his father saw the two make their way safely through the rapids and onto the shore. They assumed this had a safe ending to the situation, but later learned that a third person had been involved and had not made it to shore.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but the person who was in the water was trying to help a friend. The friend had gone under and was clinging to the leg of the person we saw in the water,” said the Cedar Rapids teen worker. “When the paddleboarder tried to assist, the person under the water lost his grip. That is the person who is missing.”
A search for the missing swimmer was stopped as darkness fell on July 4 and resumed on the morning of July 5. As of evening on July 5, he had not been located.
The National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Facebook page on July 4th warned of river dangers as it wished everyone a safe, enjoyable holiday. This message has also been echoed and stressed by emergency personnel and departments on both sides of the Delaware River, and by officials and residents in communities along it.
“We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Independence Day. One way to ensure that when heading out on the water today is to Wear Your Life Jacket,” NPS’ message reads. “With the rain over the last two days the river has risen to 5.11 feet. These higher water levels can bring waves between 4 to 5 feet and swift river currents of 2.5 miles per hour or more. Only larger rocks are exposed in rapids with open and wide channels. Increased canoe or kayak skills are recommended, and rafting is suggested for less skilled boaters. Swimmers are strongly encouraged to wear a life jacket as most of our drownings on the Upper Delaware have been swimming-related.