The body of a young Northern Virginia boy who went missing while swimming in the Rappahannock River on Monday afternoon was recovered early Wednesday morning.
Hasnain Ghafoor, 15, of Manassas, was recovered from the river at 8:36 a.m. near Virginia Route 3’s Chatham Bridge near downtown Fredericksburg. Officials said the teen was not wearing a personal flotation device.
Stafford County Sheriff’s Maj. Shawn Kimmitz said the teen entered the Rappahannock with family members on Monday upstream about 4 p.m. near Falmouth and swam across the river to Old Mill Park.
From there, he walked about 100 yards along the riverbank then attempted to cross the river again back to the Falmouth side, but “the strong current took him,” Kimmitz said.
Along with Stafford County’s dive team, divers and rescue personnel from Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania County and Prince William County, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and Marine Corps Base Quantico participated in search and recovery operations. Mid-Atlantic Dogs, Blue and Gray Search and Rescue Dogs and Dogs East also helped in the effort.
Monday’s death marks the third on the river in a nine-day period.
On Saturday afternoon, Stafford divers found a body in the Rappahannock at Muddy Creek near the King George County line. The body was transferred to the medical examiner and the identity of that person is still unknown.
Last Tuesday, search teams recovered the body of 40-year-old Brandon Childs, who went missing while kayaking Aug. 30 near the Fredericksburg City Dock. Officials determined Childs was not wearing a personal flotation device.
Since 1985, more than 80 people have drowned in the Rappahannock. River experts say the Rappahannock River is unpredictable and can be extremely dangerous.
“It’s not like other rivers in the area. It’s got tides, it’s brackish, it has rapids,” said Joe Young, a Fredericksburg police officer who serves as the city watershed manager. “It’s smooth on top, but at the bottom, it’s moving three times faster than it is on the surface, especially down by the City Dock.”
Local authorities and river experts are adamant that people wear life jackets for all river activities, and be exceedingly cautious whether boating, fishing, swimming or even walking on the riverbank.
“If you have a PFD on correctly, it should keep you afloat, but at high water levels, it’s going to be tough to get to the bank,” said Bill Micks, co-owner of the Virginia Outdoor Center. “Plus, you’re dealing with debris in the river. It’s dangerous. … You shouldn’t be out there when it’s high, whether you have a life jacket or not.”
James Scott Baron: 540-374-5438
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