AMESBURY, MASS. (WHDH) - Newburyport officials have pivoted a search for a missing 6-year-old boy to a recovery operation after he likely drowned during a family outing.
Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire said the family of six– a mother, 29, father, 31, and their four children– were fishing and swimming on Deer Island when the ordeal began sometime around 7 p.m.
At around that time, the father headed to his car to retrieve some gear. At the same time, the boy likely reached for something in the water and fell in. He was pulled away by the current. The mother and a daughter, 7, got in the water to save him and were also caught up in the current. The father came back to the shore and saw his family members in the water, then quickly followed them in. He also got stuck before eventually swimming back to shore. He was transported to Seabrook Hospital where he was treated for hypothermia.
The current carried the mother and daughter west under and beyond the Whittier Bridge. A pair of fishermen pulled the 7-year-old girl out of the water and onto a nearby deck, according to the Coast Guard. The mother was unable to hoist herself aboard, and she went underwater. Rescuers eventually brought her out of the water. Once on the dock, neighbors said they began CPR on the woman but she did not make it.
The 7-year-old was taken to the hospital with hypothermia, and is expected to be OK. The family’s names are not yet being released.
“We used to be boaters, the river is really tough and you have to respect it,” one neighbor said.
Divers continued their search for the boy Friday morning amid strong currents, complicating the search. Chain Bridge, which connects Newburyport and Amesbury reopened Friday morning, but authorities warned boaters to be cautious of the increased emergency personnel presence on the water as the search for the boy continues.
Local divers, boats and helicopters are all assisting in the recovery operation for the missing boy. Officials from Amesbury, Newburyport, the Coast Guard and other local departments are aiding in the search, which is initially focused on the area where the mother and daughter were rescued.
Police are also searching for the two boaters who helped pull the mother and daughter out of the water. Anyone who may know their identities is asked to call the Amesbury Police Department at 978-388-1212.
A fundraiser has been established in Boua DeChhat’s name in order to pay for funeral costs, housing and support for the family. Those looking to donate can do so by following this link.
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