Search continues for missing rafter

By Tammy Compton
Wayne Independent
Tue Aug 25, 2009, 03:38 PM EDT
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Sullivan County, NY -

The search continues for a rafter presumed drowned on the Delaware River, in neighboring Sullivan County, NY.

Thirty-six-year-old Hin Hon Siu of Flushing, New York and three others were rafting down the Delaware River Sunday afternoon when their raft overturned in the Staircase Rapids, near Pond Eddy.

As it happened, the National Park Service (NPS) was just downstream of the Staircase Rapids patrolling in a motorboat when a visitor reported a person in the water. They responded immediately, and found all four people in the water. A man and two women made it safely to shore.

Loren Goering, chief of interpretation for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreation River, says only one of the four was wearing a life jacket.

Park Ranger Kevin Reish and NPS volunteer Robert Hare of Florida, who were in the boat, threw Siu a lifejacket. But Goering says Siu was “barely above the waterline and unable to grab the jacket.”

When Siu couldn’t grab the life preserver, Hare jumped in to try and save him, but came up empty handed.

Goering says the water in that area was running high Sunday, following recent storms. Normally three to four-feet deep at the Staircase Rapids, the river was registering at 6 feet four inches that afternoon.

Numerous agencies are aiding in the search, including: NPS, Sullivan County Dive Team, New York State Police (dive team and helicopter), PA Game Commission, NY Forest Service, and at least a half a dozen area fire departments.

Goering said cadaver dogs were being called in Wednesday.

This is the second tragedy on the Delaware this summer. Twenty-nine-year-old Gustavo Brito was swimming near Soaring Eagle Campground in Stalker, PA, when he drowned July 26.
Goering says Superintendent Vidal Martinez, Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, is hoping to gain community support in requiring life jackets be used by everyone on the river when the water is over six feet; that would include boaters, swimmers, fishermen, and even people wading in the water.

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