The body of a six-year-old boy was found after his mother drowned trying to rescue him and his sister from a fast-flowing river.
The tragic discovery came three days after the boy fell into the water and sparked a rescue attempt by his family and local first responders.
The family were visiting the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Massachusetts, to fish and swim on June 9 when the 31-year-old father went to their car at 7 p.m. to get something.
When he returned, he found his son Mason DeChhat had been swept away trying to grab something in the water.
Police say the boy’s seven-year-old sister tried to grab him as he was pulled away and also fell into the river.
Their mother, Boua DeChhat, jumped into the water to try to save her children even though she couldn’t swim.
They were caught in the strong current, according to Massachusetts State Police.
The father returned from the family car, found his wife and daughter in the water and jumped after them but was unable to reach them after getting into trouble himself.
The current carried the mother and daughter inland, where someone in a boat saw them struggling and was able to pull them out, officials said.
The mother struggled to pull herself up and disappeared under the water.
Mark Bajko, a passerby, and a police officer attempted to revive the mother after she was pulled from the water.
“I give as much as I can,” Bajko told WCVB.
“I already called 911 on the way over and did CPR and finally a police officer tapped me and said, ‘Hey, let me take over.’
“And he takes over and I get up and at that moment and that second a little girl stopped crying and she was like, ‘My brother is still in the water.'”
The girl and her mother were taken to Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport.
The seven-year-old was treated and discharged.
The search for little Mason continued with the Coast Guard, harbor masters, state police, local police and fire departments, and state environmental police searching the area.
Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire said strong currents would pose challenges to the search mission.
About 10 state police divers were deployed and helicopters were seen sweeping the area while divers used sonar and were towed behind boats to search for the boy.
The search and rescue operation for the boy was suspended at 5 p.m. Friday, the Coast Guard said.
“Putting on a search and rescue incident is always a difficult decision, and even more painful when children are involved,” said Capt. Kailie Benson, commander of the Coast Guard’s Boston sector.
It was announced on Sunday that Mason’s body had been discovered.
“It is with great sadness that we report that the boy’s body has been recovered,” Amesbury Police said in a statement on Facebook.
A kayaker found his body about half a mile from where he was last seen, authorities said.
“I saw something floating and I was hoping it was a stick and as I got closer I realized what it was and called 911,” the kayaker was quoted as saying.
“It’s just awful.”
The remains were turned over to the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for official identification.
A small memorial has been erected along the Merrimack River off Deer Island where the incident occurred.
Nearly $100,000 was raised on GoFundMe to support the family following the tragic loss of two of their six family members.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/5539820/boys-body-found-mom-drowned-river-newburyport-massachusetts/ The body of a 6-year-old boy was found after his mother drowned trying to save him and his 7-year-old sister who fell into the river during a family outing