Community members are stunned and in mourning after officials said a mother from Lynn died Tuesday afternoon trying to prevent her 10-year-old son from drowning in a river in New Hampshire
New Hampshire state police in a statement said authorities first responded after receiving a report of a person trapped at Franconia Falls in the White Mountain National Forest around 4 p.m.
Citing an initial investigation, state police said a family from Lynn and one friend from Salem, Mass. hiked to the waterfall on the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. While at the waterfall, police said the family’s 10-year-old son fell into the water, prompting other family members to jump in.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Law Enforcement Division in a separate statement said the mother, later identified as Melissa Bagley, 44, “jumped into the river to help her child and began to immediately have trouble.”
“Two other children jumped into the river to help their brother and mother,” the Fish and Game Department said. “They were able to get their brother out of the water, but in doing so, another brother became lodged in the boulders and could not escape.”
The department said the children’s father found the mother on a rock and began CPR but she was unable to be revived.
The Fish and Game Department, in its statement, said the father later pulled his son to safety before he went back to his wife and waited for emergency crews to arrive.
The Everett Police Department in a statement said Melissa Bagley was the wife of Everett Police Lieutenant Sean Bagley, saying Melissa died “during a family outing along the river in the White Mountain area.”
Police said Melissa drowned “while trying to aid one of her children who slipped into the river.”
“While we appreciate all those who have reached out,” Everett police continued, “we ask that Lt. Bagley and his family be given the time and space to mourn the death of Melissa.”
New Hampshire State Police said an autopsy is scheduled and said an investigation into this incident is ongoing.
In Massachusetts, individuals including Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria shared their reactions Wednesday.
“As a parent, I know that there is nothing that any parent wouldn’t do for their child,” DeMaria said in a statement. “Melissa did everything she could to protect her children and her family.”
DeMaria described Tuesday’s events as “unimaginable” and asked community members “to please keep Sean and his family in your thoughts, while also asking that we give them the time and space they need to mourn the death of Melissa.”
“This tragic event is an important reminder to us all to never miss an opportunity to tell those you love how much they mean to you,” DeMaria said.
Longtime neighbors of the Bagley family were crushed by the news.
“They must be just heartbroken,” said France Nicole Bouchard. “I can’t believe it.”
“Her husband must be so distraught, I’m so sorry,” Bouchard said.
Bouchard described Sean Bagley as a “dedicated, wonderful guy.”
“Just very nice people,” she said.
“Whatever they do, they do together,” said fellow neighbor Barbara Cheney.
At the family’s church in Swampscott, community members also spoke.
“When you see your child in distress, you just don’t think,” said St. John’s parishioner Maureen McDonnell. “You act.”
“Her bravery is amazing,” McDonnell said. “It’s just so sad that it ended the way that it did.”
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