The body of 6-year-old Mas DeChhat, who drowned in the Merrimack River while on a family fishing trip, was found Sunday in Newburyport, Massachusetts, authorities confirmed.
Mas’s body was found by a kayaker in the river near Newburyport’s Pipers Quarry, authorities said.
“It is with great sadness that we have to announce that the body of the young boy has been found. The family have been informed and we are praying that this gives the family some closure,” Amesbury Police said , which was part of the research, in a statement. .
Mas first entered the river around 7 p.m. Thursday during a family fishing trip to Deer Island. His mother, Boua DeChhat, and his 7-year-old sister jumped into the water to try to save him, but they were swept away by the current and Boua, 29, died before the couple could be pulled out. announced the authorities. The girl survived.
The rescue operation had transitioned to a recovery-focused operation on Friday.
On Deer Island, a makeshift memorial to the DeChhat family was erected on Sunday. People were leaving flowers and lighting candles.
Authorities continue to search the Merrimack River in Newburyport on Friday for a missing 6-year-old boy.
The first fishing incident near Whittier Bridge
The six members of the DeChhat family, from Lowell, at the center of the tragic crash had been fishing and swimming at Deer Island, a recreation area in the Merrimack River between Amesbury and Newburyport and near the Whittier Bridge, which carries Interstate 95 on the river, officials said. Police initially said they were involved in a boating accident, but this turned out to be untrue.
The father of the family, Boua’s 31-year-old husband, went to get something from their car around 7 p.m. That’s when Mas fell in the water while searching for something in it and was swept away by the current, officials said.
Boua, who was not known to swim, and her 7-year-old daughter entered the river to help rescue him, but were also caught in the strong current, according to Massachusetts State Police. The father, returning from the car, saw Boua and her daughter in the water and jumped after them, but could not reach them and also got into trouble; he was able to get back to shore.
The current carried Boua and her daughter inland below the Whittier Bridge, where a person in a boat saw them struggling and was able to pull them out, officials said. But the woman struggled to climb into the boat and went underwater.
Newburyport Fire Department said the incident involved a family of six who were fishing on Deer Island.
Boua and her mother were both taken to Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport; the girl was treated and released but Boua, whom rescuers found unconscious and not breathing, was pronounced dead.
The search for the missing boy
The search had focused on the part of the river where Boua and her daughter had been pulled from the water, according to state police. This is not where Mas’s body was found; Pipers Quarry, where Mas’s body was found, is on the east side of Deer Island, while his mother and sister were on the west side of the island.
Deer Island is about five miles from the mouth of the Merrimack River.
Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire gives the latest update on the fishing incident which left a woman dead and her 6-year-old son missing in the Merrimack River.
The massive effort to find Mas, which began Thursday evening, continued all day Friday, even after the focus of the mission shifted to recovering his body. The Coast Guard suspended its search in the afternoon.
“It’s always a difficult decision to put a search and rescue case on hold, and even more painful when children are involved,” said Captain Kailie Benson, commander of Coast Guard Sector Boston. “Given the intensive search efforts of the Coast Guard and numerous state and local agencies, as well as the conditions on site, I have made the decision to suspend the search for the missing 6-year-old boy.”
“Our prayers are with the family and friends of the boy and the mother during this time,” Benson added.
Massachusetts State Police resumed their search on Saturday after spending 10 hours searching for the boy on Friday.
The search included the Coast Guard, harbor masters, state police, local police and fire departments throughout the region, and state environmental police. The response included 10 Massachusetts State Police divers and helicopters were seen searching the area.
Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire had said search efforts would continue until around noon Friday before officials reassessed them and decided to move from a rescue to a recovery.
“We keep looking,” he said Friday morning. “As time passes, the chance of recovery decreases. We believe we will soon be in recovery mode.”
He said the strong current in the river presented challenges in the search effort.
LeClaire described conditions on Deer Island Thursday night when Mas disappeared and Boua and his daughter entered the water after him as typical, noting the rapid pace of the river and the rocky ledge.
“It gets quite used this time of year. People have been known to fish along the edge of Deer Island,” he said.
Countless first aid vehicles could be seen parked along a bridge Thursday evening, while several boats were in the water and State Police and Coast Guard helicopters hovered overhead.
The search for the 6-year-old boy is ongoing.
NBC10 Boston spoke with a woman who lives nearby and she said her husband also got in his kayak Thursday night to help search for the child after realizing what was going on.
“My husband was here with the dog, and I was like, what’s taking so long? And then all of a sudden he’s yelling at me, and he’s talking about a woman and CPR” , said Sue Bajko. “I got out and two fishermen came to our dock here in their boat and they got the woman and her daughter out of the boat and did CPR.”
Len Johnson, a lifelong Amesbury resident who lives along the river, said: “Heaven help you if you fall in the river, the current can carry you away in a flash.”