27 Years Late: Plaque dedicated at Nay Aug Park Gorge

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – A family from Lackawanna County who lost their son in a swimming accident thirty years ago is still working to keep others safe.

Shortly after tragedy hit the Phillips family in 1986, they worked to make the Nay Aug Park gorge a national natural landmark.

It took until Wednesday for an official marker to be placed at the site.

Jerry and Nancy Phillips say the designation actually was given in 1989 but for some reason the original plaque went missing and was never installed.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” Jerry Phillips of Scranton said.

The Phillips family worked to get the designation in memory of their son Timothy who drown while swimming in the gorge in 1986.

“I have kept a memory book and everyone that is hurt here or an accident, it’s all recorded in Tim’s memory book,” Nancy Phillips said.

Over the years, dozens of other people have lost their lives in similar incidents at the gorge. Countless other people have also been rescued, including one man who was rescued just this past Saturday.

After city councilman Bill Gaughan heard the Phillips story he knew he had to get a new plaque made and installed.

“I decided they’re a good family, this is a great story, they put so much work into this and it needs to get done,” Gaughan said.

As for what happened to the first plaque, no one knows for sure.

“We went back, the workers who had been working for Parks & Rec for many, many years, they looked in every building they could possibly look at,” Scranton mayor Bill Courtight said.

The Phillips family calls Wednesday bittersweet and they hope others respect the beauty and the dangers of the gorge.

“This sort of is the icing on the cake now that the plaque, the new plaque is back. It’s installed and it’s a good feeling,” Jerry Phillips said.

It is illegal to swim in the Nay Aug Park gorge. Trespassers can face fines and criminal citations.

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