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Teen drowning victim 'will be missed dearly'

June 13, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A 15-year-old boy who drowned in the Shenandoah River Tuesday was an outstanding athlete at Charles Town Junior High School and was involved in student government, the school's principal said Wednesday.

Matthew Travis Perry, of 807 Paynes Ford Road, drowned while swimming with three friends in the Avon Bend area, state Department of Natural Resources officials said.

It appears Perry was wading in water about 5 feet deep when he unexpectedly fell into a section that was about 10 feet deep, Steve Anderson, one of three divers who searched for the boy, said Tuesday.

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The three friends who were swimming with Perry tried to grab him and extended logs to him in attempts to pull him to safety, said K.E. White, a conservation officer with the DNR.

Perry was a gifted athlete who was so skilled in football and wrestling that he made the junior high varsity team in the two sports while he was an eighth-grade student, said Larry Mullin, principal at Charles Town Junior High.

"He was very physically fit and used his attributes well. He just stood out," Mullin said.

Perry, who also played baseball, was well-known among students at the school and was the president of the student government organization in the past school year, said Mullin.

"I'd say Matt will be missed dearly by everyone who knew him. It's a real loss," Mullin said.

Perry had been out of school for summer break six days when the accident occurred.

Ninth-grade students finished their exams at the school last Wednesday, Mullin said.

Perry and his three friends went to the Shenandoah River about midday Tuesday to swim, White said.

The four boys had been at the river for about 10 minutes when Perry got into the deeper water, said White.

Perry yelled to his friends when he began having trouble, according to White. The three other boys tried to pull Perry to the surface but he kept pulling them under water, he said.

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

Divers found the body about 90 minutes after he went under, officials said.

Miller said he listed the cause of death as accidental drowning.

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