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River claims two lives

July 11, 2012

SPARROWBUSH & PORT JERVIS, NY — The rocky cliffs along the Delaware River near Sparrowbush are a popular place for kids to climb and jump, but a teenaged girl died after falling about 60 feet along a sloping rock surface and landing in the Delaware River at about 3 p.m. on July 5.

The victim was later identified as Cassandra Ann Wilson, a 16-year-old student and cheerleader who attended Minisink Valley High School.

A guest who was staying at the Eddy Farm immediately called 911, and rescue workers responded. They reached the victim using a raft. They immediately airlifted her to Westchester Medical Center, where she was later pronounced dead.

One of the emergency workers said the girl was walking along the top of a cliff when some of the stone under her feet gave way, which caused her to fall. The girl was reportedly a member of a local ambulance corp.

The rocks in the area are used by many youths for diving and climbing, but Sparrowbush fire chief Scott Glynn said it’s a dangerous situation because the rocks are slippery and the climbers’ feet are wet.

Another drowning occurred the next day. The body of a Port Jervis man was found floating in the river near Laurel Grove Cemetery. The man, identified as 37-year-old Kenneth Vanorden, was pulled from the river by rescuers and pronounced dead at Bon Secours Community Hospital.

Port Jervis police and firefighters from Port Jervis and Matamoras, PA responded to the call.

Both accidents occurred in the eight-mile stretch of river between the Upper Delaware and the Middle Delaware, which is not under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.