Body of missing 6-year-old boy Mas DeChhat found in Merrimack River

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — The body of a missing 6-year-old boy who was swept into the Merrimack River has been found.

“It is with a great sadness we must report the body of the young boy has been recovered. The family has been notified and we pray this gives the family some closure,” Amesbury Police wrote Sunday afternoon.

Mas DeChhat had been missing since Thursday night. State Police said a kayaker found his body in the Pipers Quarry area of the river.

That kayaker, Darin Kelsey, went out Sunday in the hopes of helping first responders.

“I saw him floating, and I have a young boy and a young girl, and just the image of that will always stay with me,” said Kelsey.

Kelsey found the boy’s body floating in the river and called 911.

“It was so startling because I was thinking that it might be caught up in the reeds or something. I didn’t expect it floating, it was almost in the middle of the river, and with all these crews and all these boats out there, I was just in shock that I came upon this boy, it was really just shock,” said Kelsey.

Police said Mas’s mother, 29-year-old Boua DeChhat, of Lowell, drowned after jumping in the river to save the boy and his 7-year-old sister. Boua DeChhat and her daughter were pulled from the water by a boater and taken to Anna Jacques Hospital, where the mother was pronounced dead. Her daughter was treated and released.

The accident happened Thursday evening off Deer Island in Amesbury. Police said DeChhat, her husband and their two children were fishing and swimming on the island when Mas fell in the water while reaching for a stick.

He was pulled away by the current, and his sister fell in while trying to grab him. DeChhat, who police say was not a swimmer, went in the water to save her children.

DeChhat’s husband had gone back to the car to get some gear when his family went in the water. He jumped in when he saw his wife and daughter in trouble, but began to struggle himself.

Police said he made it back toward shore and grabbed a rock. He was taken to Seabrook Hospital and treated for exposure and hypothermia.

The current carried DeChhat and her daughter west, under the Whittier Bridge and out into the river, where they were found by the boater.

Mas was not seen in the water when the pair were pulled aboard the boat, police said.

“Anyone who’s on the river, knows the river, can relate to how scary it is. Just we all felt awful, you know, we’ve been hearing the helicopters go over our house for days now, and just happy to be able to provide the family with some sort of closure,” said Kelsey.

State police said their crews, along with local police, fire, dive teams and harbormasters, all aggressively searched the river for four days, and now that the boy has been found, their deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family.

“A number of policemen came up to me and said thank you for finding him, it brings some closure for all of us,” said Kelsey.

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