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. It was then that 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 and we carried under and beyond the Whittier Bridge.
Anthony Aziz was one of the first people to come across the father capturing video of one of the oldest children getting pulled from the water.
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.
She was eventually hoisted onto a nearby dock and that is when 58-year-old Mark Bajko ran over to help.
“I jumped in and tried to clear her throat of everything and started doing CPR,” he recalled. “So the little girl is now with the captain just crying, just watching us do CPR on her mom.”
Despite his efforts, the young mother did not survive.
Bajko said he intends to help crews locate the boy’s body so his family can begin to heal.
“That family needs that boy. We gotta find him and we will,” he said.
“It was a hectic,” said neighbor Nick McGarry. “Obviously, a very concerned community trying to find the boy but the longer it took the less likelihood of it being OK.”
About 20 divers from both the state police and Boston Fire Department spent all day Friday combing the water alongside the coast guard. The boy’s father and extended family watching from shore.
Coast Guard said late Friday afternoon that they are suspending the search for the boy, to pick it up again Saturday morning.
The boy’s father has remained on the scene looking for his son. The community has rallied around the father and his children as they hold onto hope.
“For me, I want closure. The family lost the mom and that’s really sad and now they’re sitting there not having their boy,” Bajko said.
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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