The body of a 16 year-old boy who was swept downstream while swimming near the McCreery River Access Point of the New River Gorge National River was found Friday afternoon, Public Affairs Officer Julena Campbell reported.

Campbell, who did not divulge the name of the boy, said service rangers and trained search and rescue divers and other personnel from the Beaver Volunteer Fire Department, as well as personnel from Bradley-Prosperity Volunteer Fire Department, Danese Volunteer Fire Department and Mount Hope Volunteer Fire Department, had been searching for the boy since 7 a.m. Friday.

The boy’s body was found 200 yards downstream from where he was last seen, Campbell said, and he had been swimming in the river with two companions when he got caught in the swift-moving current and was swept downstream.

His body was found 14 feet beneath the river’s surface. He was not wearing a life jacket.

The McCreery River Access Point was temporarily closed during the search efforts, Campbell said.

“I’d like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of this young man and our thoughts will remain with them as they work through their grief. I also want to extend our appreciation for the swift response of the many local volunteer fire departments and others that came to our aid during a holiday weekend,” New River Gorge National River Superintendent Lizzie Watts said.

“Tragic events such as these remind us all, local residents and park visitors alike, that the New River is a high-volume river with swift currents, deep holes, and a rocky bottom,” a press release from the New River Gorge National River said.

“Water levels can change daily and conditions in even familiar areas can change quickly.

“Personal flotation devices (PFDs), or life jackets, are essential safety items and should be worn anytime people are in or around the water, including in a boat.

“Most drownings in the New River involve people who didn’t plan on being in the water,” the press release stated. “Even experienced river users can become disoriented or incapacitated during an accident on the river. For more tips on water safety while in the park, visit www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/water-safety.htm.”

Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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