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Two drown in the Upper Delaware

July 28, 2011

Adriano Pacheco, 41, who was visiting from Portugal, attempted to swim across the Upper Delaware River just North of Skinners Falls on July 30. Pacheco was not wearing a life jacket, nor was the unidentified friend who was with him.

Pacheco didn’t make it. According to release from the National Park Service, the Sullivan County dive team found his body at 6:12 p.m., less than two hours after he started the swim. His friend did reach the other side, but required treatment at a hospital for shortness of breath.

Pacheco was the second person to drown in the river while trying to swim across within a week. On July 28 the search for 18-year-old volunteer boy-scout leader, Daniel Rak, concluded when divers from the Port Jervis Volunteer Fire Department located the young man’s body in the vicinity of the Number 9 railroad bridge near the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten.

Rak and Pacheco are the third and forth drowning victims in the Upper Delaware River region this season. According to National Park Service chief ranger, Joe Hinkes, Rak was swimming with two other young men on the evening of July 27 when he may have been pulled under the water by strong currents. Attempts to save him were unsuccessful.

Multiple emergency units were involved in the search from both New York and Pennsylvania. A helicopter, an airboat and other watercraft were deployed in efforts to locate Rak. At one point, 28 trained divers searched the river.

“A lot of our drownings occur like this,” said Hinkes. They’re often swimming-related incidents where the victims were not wearing life jackets. The key message is wear a properly fitted, securely fastened life jacket whether you’re boating, swimming or recreating on or near the river. That’s the thing that’s going to save your life. Don’t underestimate the river.

At places, it looks calm and serene but it’s not. There is always a current flowing and it can be unpredictable, like the river bottom. It can take you by surprise.”

That message was underscored by NPS superintendent Sean McGuinness, who said of the condition of the river where Pecheco drowned, “It is only about 50 yards across the river and the water looks calm. But the river is constantly moving, the current is deceptively strong and there are sudden drop offs. Swimmers need to wear life jackets and should not attempt to swim across the river.”