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15-year-old drowns in the Shenandoah River

June 12, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Despite attempts by three friends to rescue him, a 15-year-old boy drowned while swimming in the Shenandoah River Tuesday afternoon, rescue officials said.

Officials declined to release the boy's name Tuesday night because not all family members had been notified.

The teenager and his friends were swimming in water about 5 feet deep, said Steve Anderson, one of three divers who searched for the boy.

It appears the youth was walking in the river when he fell into a section of water that was about 10-feet deep, Anderson said.

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The youth's body was found about 90 minutes later against some brush in a deep section of water, members of the dive team said.

When divers brought the boy to the surface at about 3:28 p.m., he had a lollipop in his mouth, Anderson said.

Anderson said water may have rushed into the boy's mouth, causing him to begin swallowing the lollipop.

Jefferson County Coroner William Miller said he could not tell if that had anything to do with the boy's death. Miller said the candy was not in the boy's mouth when he examined him.

The drowning occurred off MacBeth Drive in the Avon Bend area east of Kabletown Road.

The boys were swimming in calm waters on the eastern side of the river, where the Shannondale Springs Wildlife Management Area is located, said K.E. White, a conservation officer with the state Department of Natural Resources.

The area can be reached on the western side of the river by a dirt road that winds through a field.

The boys arrived at the river in mid-afternoon and had been there about 10 minutes when the boy got into the deep water, White said.

The boy yelled to his friends when he began having trouble, said White. The three other boys tried to pull their friend up but he kept pulling them under water, White said.

The other boys then tried to use sticks and logs to get their friend to safety, White said.

The boys got the attention of a nearby camper, who called 911, White said.

"I'm convinced they did everything they could," White said.

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