Upper Delaware Scenic & Recreational River (NY,PA)
Visitor Falls Into Swollen Delaware And Drowns
On the afternoon of August 23rd, four friends who were rafting together on the rain-swollen Delaware River fell out of the raft when it hit a standing wave in Staircase Rapids and flipped over. Only one of the raft’s occupants was wearing a lifejacket at the time. He and two others were able to swim ashore, but Hin Hon Siu, 36, of Flushing, New York, swam downstream.
Ranger Kevin Reish and park VIP Robert Hare were on boat patrol not far downstream at the time. When they received a visitor report of people in the water, they responded, spotted Siu, and threw a flotation device to him. Siu was barely above the waterline, though, and was unable to utilize it. Hare jumped into the river in an attempt to save Siu, but Siu slipped below the surface of the swollen and muddy river and disappeared. An interagency search was begun, but no sign of Siu was found. The search is still underway.
[Submitted by Joe Nicholson, Acting Chief Ranger, Upper Delaware NSRA]
By Meghan E. Murphy
August 24, 2009
TOWN OF LUMBERLAND — Bob Hare looked with bloodshot eyes at the murky waters of the Delaware River where a man drowned Sunday. Hare didn't have anything more to add. Kevin Reish, acting law enforcement supervisor for the National Park Service, had already told how he and Hare had driven toward a call of four rafters in trouble just before 2 p.m. Sunday. Three were safe; one is presumed drowned, officials said. They gave no names or addresses.
When the water reaches 7 feet, the park service issues a warning: experienced boaters only, wear life jackets, no canoes. Reish and Hare had been spreading that warning along the river Sunday afternoon before they were called upon to help.
The rafters, who rented their craft at Pond Eddy, were dumped into the water at the Staircase Rapids, near Lumberland. When Reish and Hare arrived, they steered toward a man struggling against the rolling current and threw him a rescue vest. When that failed, Hare, a park service volunteer, jumped into the water. The man was pulled under. One of the four rafters in the capsized boat wore a life vest; the victim did not.
Five rescue boats and a dive team searched several miles of the river for more than three hours. The water was the color of a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, regular. Dive teams couldn't see deeper than a few inches into it.
At about 5 p.m., rescuers called off the search. The high water was too dangerous, said Eric Robles, assistant chief of the Lumberland Fire Department. Instead, a state police helicopter scanned from above.
Bill Hissan of Pond Eddy also looked on the scene Sunday afternoon. He pulled his van over at a Route 97 overlook and watched rescuers circling a shelf of rapids, hoping. Some wish the park service could shut down the river for recreation when it's churning, he said. Hissan has fished the Delaware for more than 40 years. He's seen rescuers many times before. "It's beautiful when it's normal," he said. "It's always trouble when it's this high."
Searchers will regroup and begin again Monday.