MANCHESTER, NH – A city man drowned Sunday afternoon while swimming in the Piscataquog River, after wading into an area with a steep drop-off, fire officials said.
Manchester Fire got the call from the man’s wife at about 4:35 p.m., reporting he had gone under while swimming and did not resurface, said Manchester District Fire Chief Richard McGahey. He said the remote location, off Electric Street, is a popular beach for swimmers.
The man’s wife, who is about 8-months pregnant, told McGahey her husband was not a strong swimmer.
“There’s a drop off there of about 20 feet. It appears he may have walked down about 20 feet from the beach and then got to the drop off, and couldn’t feel the ground anymore, and panicked,” McGahey said.
Rescue boats were immediately launched, and were assisted in the search by New Hampshire Marine Patrol, which happened to be in the area, McGahey said. Crews dragged the river for about an hour before locating the man’s body 15 to 20 feet from shore on the bottom of the river at about 5:43 p.m. Resuscitation efforts were begun on shore and continued in the ambulance,all the way to CMC, McGahey said.
“They did everything they could,” McGahey said, “but finally had to call it. Unfortunately, he did not make it.”
McGahey said you have to walk through woods to get to the beach, and while it’s not supervised for swimming, it’s quite a popular area with locals.
“It’s a common area for swimming, and on a hot day like to day, especially. There were probably a dozen other people who showed up after this happened, and we had to stop them from swimming,” McGahey said.
The man’s wife was taken from the scene to Elliot Hospital by ambulance before her husband’s body was recovered, due to the stress of the situation, McGahey said.
“She didn’t go into labor, but it was quite stressful and she was taken for observation,” he said.
McGahey said despite the warm air temperatures today, which drew people to the swimming area, the water temperature was still quite chilly for swimming, and registered about 40 degrees on the bottom, where the drowning victim’s body was located.
This is the second drowning in Manchester in the past week. Torin Brown, of North Carolina, was swept downstream while attempting to swim across the Merrimack River on May 11.
NH State Police said the victim’s identity was being withheld until his family members were notified. We’ll update the story with that information as soon as it becomes available.