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Boy, man apparently drown in Black River in Watertown

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A young boy drowned Saturday evening in the Black River and a man who tried to save him was missing and feared dead after the child fell in the water while they were fishing.

A search for the man is scheduled to resume this morning. Authorities would not specify the relationship of the two victims, but said they were area residents. Their names were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

The two were fishing off the 500 block of West Main Street, opposite Maggie’s on the River restaurant, 500 Newell St., about 6:30 p.m. when the boy, 5, fell in the water and “the adult male jumped in to save him,” according to Lt. Frank J. Derrigo of the Watertown Police Department.

About an hour later, divers from Jefferson County’s Special Tactics and Rescue team recovered the boy’s body downriver at the racks of the Glen Park hydroelectric dam, Lt. Derrigo said.

Rescuers could not find the man, age 47, and the search was called off just before 8:30 p.m. Saturday because of darkness.

Search efforts will resume this morning, probably around 10 a.m., Lt. Derrigo said. “We’ll have patrols up and down the river,” he said.

Lt. Derrigo said that there apparently were witnesses to the incident and that it was reported quickly, although he was uncertain of the details, having reported directly to the Glen Park site.

A unique aspect of the case was the speed with which the boy’s body was carried to Glen Park, he said.

“It’s very rare for anybody to make it down there this fast,” Lt. Derrigo said.

Drowning victims often take a week to 10 days to get that far because of the varying currents in the river, he said.

The Black River in Watertown on Saturday night was flowing at just over 7,000 cubic feet per second, well below the median flow rate of 8,060 cubic feet per second, according to Hudson River-Black River Regulating District data.

Following the emergency call, Watertown firefighters and officers from various police agencies fanned out to various vantage points along the Black River, and city firefighters searched the shoreline in inflatable boats.

Glen Park firefighters also responded to the hydroelectric facility, and a LifeNet helicopter was at the scene for much of the evening.

Many people gathered in Glen Park to watch the activities of emergency personnel.

One man, who said he has many children, suggested that parents should keep their young children away from the river, as it can be very dangerous.

While drownings here are uncommon, Lt. Derrigo said any drownings are “too many.”

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