Search continues for missing swimmer

Despite immediate response by rescue team, 22-year-old from Jersey City still not found


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  • Ranger Joe Hinkes near the site of Sunday's fatal accident, on the river a few miles south of Barryville . (Photo by Anya Tikka)



By Anya Tikka

— Searchers have not yet found a 22-year-old Jersey City, N.J., man who disappeared under the fast-running waters of the Upper Delaware River during Memorial Day weekend.

By the numbers

The daily discharge in cubic feet per second (CFS) at the Milford, Pa., gauge, based on 73 years of record, is as follows:
Minimum (1962) — 1,320
25th percentile — 2,890
Median — 4,600
May 28, 2014 — 5,100
Mean — 6,170
75th percentile — 6,220
Maximum (1946) — 45,7000
Source: U.S. Geological Service: http://waterdata.usgs.gov
What the numbers mean:
1,200-3,000 CFS — Normal flows, usually associated with summer and fall.
3,000-5,000 CFS — Moderately high flows, includes whitewater.
5,000 -8,000 CFS — High flows, includes whitewater. Fast moving water, with powerful waves and long rapids.
Above 8,000 CFS — Extreme flows. Fast moving water, with powerful waves and long rapids requiring wetsuits.
Source: California Rivers: aorafting.com/river/flows.htm

He was one of four friends who came to the Upper Delaware for a rafting trip. When he decided to take a swim, the outing took a tragic turn. He took off his life jacket, jumped in the water, and was immediately sucked under the surface.

His friends raised an alarm. The National Park Service (NPS) rescue team was on the scene almost immediately because the accident happened right in front of the NPS's riverfront station in Barryville.

On the day of the incident, Sunday, May 25, National Park Service Chief Ranger Joe Hinkes explained that while the group came from Jersey City, the young man was originally from Nigeria and a student in the United States.

As of Wednesday morning, his name had not yet been released because his next-of-kin hadn't been informed, said an NPS representative. Dive teams on Wednesday continued the search for his body.

Other area rescue teams came to help Sunday soon after the incident, including the Sullivan County dive team and fire departments and dive teams from Sparrowbush, Port Jervis, Highland Lake, Huguenot, Yulan, Lumberland, and Matamoras.

NPS Information Officer Ingrid Peterec said the river was running very fast on Sunday although still open to boating. The river’s speed on Sunday was 4,140 cubic feet per second, she said. (See sidebar.)

Deaths on the river have gone down considerably in recent years because of public safety programs conducted by several local organizations. Still, many visitors remain unaware of just how dangerous the river can be. It may appear placid on the surface, but dangerous currents can pull a person under in seconds.

River drowning deaths can be prevented if all people on the river — whether boating, swimming, or fishing — wear a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation jacket. It keeps people afloat above water even in dangerous currents.

The National Park Service web site advises wearing life jackets all the time while on the river, even during swimming. More deaths are connected to swimming rather than boating, according to the NPS.

Earlier this year, Ranger Joe Hinkes was selected to be a member of the Office of Public Risk Management's Drowning Prevention Board.

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