NEWBURYPORT, Mass. — The search for a missing 6-year-old boy in the Merrimack River has been suspended.
The Coast Guard said the search, which included a dozen agencies, ended at 5 p.m. Friday.
“It is always a difficult decision to suspend a search and rescue case, and even more painful when children are involved,” Capt. Kailie Benson, Coast Guard Sector Boston commander, said in a statement. “Considering the extensive search efforts by the Coast Guard and the numerous state and local agencies, along with on scene conditions, I have made the decision to suspend the search for the missing 6-year-old boy. Our prayers are with the boy and mother’s family and friends during this time.”
Police say the boy was fishing with his family Thursday night on Deer Island when he slipped off some rocks and fell into the river.
Amesbury firefighters responding to the river around 7 p.m. learned that a mother, a father, and four kids were fishing and some of them had gone into the water.
The mother went in to get her 7-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, and a boat came over to help. The mother was able to lift her daughter up into the boat, but she wasn’t able to get herself up, and she went under.
Rescue crews later found the mother, but she was not breathing. She was rushed to a local hospital, where she died. Her name has not been released.
The United States Coast Guard and Massachusetts State Police continued to search for the boy, but efforts were later suspended due to darkness.
Officials noted that the boy is the only member of the family who remains unaccounted for.
It was high tide at the time of the incident and people who live in the area say the river moves fast.
“The tide is very strong here,” Sue Bajko said.
When asked if it’s a dangerous place to swim, Bajko said, “Yes, but a lot of people do, there’s a lot of boating, but if you don’t understand the tide you can get in big trouble.”
Bajko added that her husband was out on his kayak and other neighbors took their boats out to help in the search.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.
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