A 9-year old girl drowned in the Hudson River on Monday, June 7 while swimming with her mother and siblings at Sojourner Truth Ulster Landing Park. Her body was recovered on Tuesday morning.
Town of Ulster Police Chief Kyle Berardi confirmed that 911 dispatchers were called with reports of a swimmer in distress on Monday at approximately 5:45 p.m.
“She was swimming with her siblings, and her mother was there,” Berardi said. “She got swept under the water for an unknown reason, possibly the current, possibly because a passing barge had been reported within a couple of minutes prior to that. Unfortunately she never resurfaced, and when the family couldn’t locate her, that’s when 911 was called.”
A search that included dive teams, rescue boats and a helicopter was collectively conducted by the Town of Ulster police, the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office and state police; fire departments from East Kingston, Ulster Hose, Glasco, Esopus and Kingston; and the U.S. Coast Guard.
“Plus there was assistance from other county services and town services,” Berardi said. “Just behind the scenes assistance in any way they could provide for the responders and things.”
The girl’s body was recovered on Tuesday morning at around 9:45 a.m. in roughly the same area where she disappeared.
The identity of the girl has not been released, but in a social media post on Tuesday, the Kingston City School District confirmed that she was a student in the district.
“It is with great sadness that the Kingston City School District informs our community of the passing of a KCSD elementary school student,” read the Facebook post. “The Kingston City School District community mourns this tragic loss. If any student, parent or staff member needs to speak with someone in this difficult time, our Critical Incident Stress Management Team has been activated and is available.”
Berardi confirmed that the park was recently opened by Ulster County for day-use, but that it was not yet officially open for swimming, though with recent hot weather people were swimming there and elsewhere.
“People are looking for obviously a reprieve wherever they can go,” Berardi said. “Unfortunately, without public swimming pools open this early in the summer, people are finding any means necessary to try to cool off, especially with young children.”
Berardi cautioned swimmers to be safe, especially in an environment like the Hudson River, which can be unpredictable.
“The biggest encouragement is honestly, teach your kids how to swim,” Berardi said. “Wear life preservers, even if they’re strong swimmers, because swimming in open bodies of water are unpredictable. And swim near a lifeguard when they’re there, or swim as a group. Unfortunately, her siblings weren’t strong enough to assist her, which is definitely sad for them, because they witnessed this tragedy.”