A New Jersey man became the fourth person to drown in just over a month in the Delaware River on Sunday evening in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, officials said Monday.
The body of the 30-year-old man, whose name was not released pending notification of next of kin, was found floating just upstream from the Interstate 80 toll bridge shortly after 5 p.m., said Kathleen Sandt, an NPS public affairs specialist.
After about an hour, the body was recovered and taken by boat to the Pennsylvania side of the river at Prices Landing. He was declared dead by the Monroe County Coroner’s Office, which scheduled an autopsy for Monday.
Sandt said interviews with other visitors who were picnicking and swimming along the river at the Karamac site, just upstream from where the body was discovered, revealed the man was with one of several large groups of people in the river.
Karamac is on the New Jersey side of Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area off Old Mine Road in Warren County, Sandt said, noting it is not a designated swimming or picnic area.
Sandt said the park’s emergency communications center received multiple calls reporting a body floating in the river just upstream from the Interstate 80 toll bridge shortly after 5 p.m.
NPS rangers and river patrol were dispatched to the area immediately and within minutes were on scene and accompanied by local volunteer crews.
Sandt said Sunday’s drowning was the fourth drowning in the park in just over month.
The first occurred on June 21 when a 20-year-old man drowned while attempting to swim across the Delaware River at Milford Beach; the second occurred on Saturday, July 18 when a 51-year old tuber slipped out of his inner-tube and under the water. The third drowning was a 32-year-old man who lost his life while swimming at Bushkill Access on July 20. None of the victims were wearing life jackets, Sandt said.
NPS policy is for everyone to wear a properly fitted and fastened U.S.Coast Guard-approved life jacket while swimming, floating, fishing, or boating on, or in, the Delaware River.
"The river current is strong and swift, despite calm appearances in some areas, and the depth can change suddenly, often going from knee-deep to over-your-head in a single step," said Chief Ranger Eric Lisnik. "Wearing a life jacket at all times is a simple thing that everyone can do to ensure a fun and safe day on, and in, the river."