Elizabeth, NJ family picnic ends in tragedy after teen drowns at Delaware Water Gap
A 14-year-old from Elizabeth drowned Sunday afternoon at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Family members called for help around 2:15 p.m. from the Ames-Jennings site, a picnic area on the New Jersey side after the teen went for a swim and didn't resurface.
His body was recovered from the river at approximately 3:30 p.m. after a search that included New Jersey State Police.
Authorities did not disclose the identity of the teen, who was the second person to drown in the river within the park this year, according to National Park Service spokeswoman Kathleen Sandt.
Neither victim had been wearing a lifejacket while they were swimming, which the Park Service recommends that bathers wear because of the river's uneven bottom and swift current.
“Our hearts and our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of the victims of these tragic incidents,” National Park Service dive team leader Dustin Gunderson said in a written statement. “We can’t say it enough: wearing a properly fitted and fastened life jacket is the number one way that folks can keep themselves safe while swimming in the Delaware River."
Other suggestions for swimming safely in the river:
- Those seeking a break from the heat near the river stay near shore in shallower water
- Avoid swimming near rapids
- Swim at lifeguarded beaches
- Always assign someone to keep an eye on everyone in your party who is in the water, especially children.
The NPS provides free loaner lifejackets for children to use while swimming at Milford, Smithfield, and Turtle beaches.
Over a dozen people have drowned at New Jersey beaches, indoor pools, lakes and rivers since April.