SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – The water at Smithfield Beach may look calm when you look out into the Delaware River, but those looks can be deceiving.
“Below that surface it is moving very swiftly and again it is very easy to find yourself in one of those currents and not know how to swim with the current,” said Kathleen Sandt, Park Spokesperson, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
That may have been what a 25-year-old New Jersey man encountered while swimming Saturday afternoon in the river. This is the fifth drowning in just six weeks at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The National Park Service urges swimmers to wear life jackets to protect you from the current, or sudden drops.
“If you are wearing a life jacket, it can hold you up and help you to safely get out of those difficult situations,” said Sandt.
Galyna Bushko took her 9-year-old daughter Sophia Saturday to swim in the Delaware River. The Staten Island woman knows first hand of the danger. Her grandfather who was known to be a good swimmer drowned about 20 years ago.
“He was an excellent swimmer, and he was saving people in the ocean in the rivers, but the current came and took him down and he drowned,” said
Bushko says she keeps a close eye on Sophia when they go swimming and have their own set of rules.
“Always just be careful where you go. If you don’t go deep then that’s good or just use a life jacket if you are,” said Sophia Bushko, Staten Island.
The National Park Service says there have been 100 deaths since the 1970’s. All of them had one thing in common, none of the victims were wearing a properly fitted and fastened life jacket.
“And they really do save lives,” said Sandt.
The deadliest drowning year at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area was in 1999 with six deaths.