River claims fifth drowning victim

By LAURIE STUART and LIAM MAYO
Posted 6/30/21

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER — Despite the idyllic ambiance of the Upper Delaware River, it is risky to enter the river without wearing a lifejacket. Foot coverings are essential as well.

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River claims fifth drowning victim

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UPPER DELAWARE RIVER — Despite the idyllic ambiance of the Upper Delaware River, it is risky to enter the river without wearing a lifejacket. Foot coverings are essential as well.

On Saturday, June 26, area rescue teams and the National Park Service (NPS) responded to two almost simultaneous swimming-related drownings. Neither male victim was wearing a life jacket. 

The first incident took place near the Cowen Farm Ranger Station, south of Barryville. The call came came in at 3:03 p.m. According to Ingrid Peterec, NPS Chief of Interterpreation, rangers responded with a boat within 15 minutes. Rescue unit 32 and 39 from Pike County, Matamoras and Westfall, respectively, responded. Additionally, according to the assistant chief of the Lumberland Fire Department, Eric Robles, the Lumberland Fire Department responded to the scene, together with the Highland Lake Fire Department, the Port Jervis Fire Department, the Sparrowbush Fire House, the Westfall Township Fire Department, the Matamoras Fire Department, the New York State Police and a drone team from the Rock Hill Fire Department. 

The search began at 4:04 p.m. It continued until dark and resumed at 9 a.m. on Sunday. The body was found at 4:45 p.m. According to the New York State Police, the victim was identified as Michael Cammett, age 24 of North Arlington, NJ. 

The second call for the other swimming-related drowning came in at 4:36 p.m. from Luke’s Landing in Minisink Ford, south of the Roebling Bridge. Robles sent the Matamoras Fire Department and the Highland Lake Fire Department from the scene of the first drowning to assist with the second. 

The body of the victim was located at 5:55 p.m. and the body was recovered at 6:16 p.m. According to the New York State Police, the victim was identified as Louis Pellot, age 31 of Brooklyn, New York. 

Previously on June 18, a kayaker fell out of his vessel at Staircase Rapids, just south of the Hawk’s Nest. While the drowning was boating-related, Peterec noted that the victim had an improperly fitted lifejacket.

“Whether your fishing, boating or floating, a lifejacket is the one piece of equipment that will save your life,” Peterec said. 

Another swimming-related drowning occurred in the Delaware near Port Jervis on June 27,  at a popular swimming hole named "Goose Rock."

The victim, a 32-year-old male resident of Port Jervis, was floating towards the middle of the river towards the I-84 bridge when he submerged underwater and failed to resurface. 

On June 29,  yet another swimming-related drowning occurred at a campground near Barryville. The 28-year-old man, identified by Sullivan County Sheriff's deputies as Tyre Thomas, drowned 40 yards from shore in 10 feet of water, and was not wearing a lifejacket. 

These incidents bring the total number of drownings on the Delaware this season to five. 

Town of Highland Supervisor Jeff Haas responded to the June 29 Barryville drowning along with other Yulan firefighters. “This river doesn’t play games,” he said. “The recent deaths have been of young, able-bodied people who drowned because they weren't wearing PFDs (Personal Flotation Devices,) like lifejackets).”

Robles agreed, saying, "Nobody's wearing life jackets — that's what it's all about." He warned especially about the deceptive dangers of the river, saying that people who come in from out of town often underestimate how powerful the river can truly be. 

For more about river safety, visit www.nps.gov/upde.

Edit: This story has been updated as 6/30 at 5 p.m. and again as of 7/1 at 2 p.m. to reflect more recent drownings and information.  It has been updated as of  7/2 at 12:30 p.m. to correct the date of the  Barryville drowning, previously misstated as occuring on June 30. 

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