A search for a 15-year-old boy who went missing in the Rappahannock River was temporarily called off as darkness set in about 8:30 p.m. Monday night, and is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning, according to an official with the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
Stafford Sheriff’s Maj. Shawn Kimmitz said the call for assistance came in at 4:21 p.m. Monday. He said arriving first responders determined the teenager entered the river, briefly surfaced in the water, then went under.
A joint effort between Stafford County Fire and Rescue and the Sheriff’s Office dive teams focused the search in the area of the Historic Port of Falmouth, with the assistance of unmanned aircraft.
While the search for the teenager is ongoing, it represents the third emergency on the river in eight days, with the other two resulting in deaths. While the Rappahannock is always dangerous, it has been a particularly alarming stretch for river activity in the Fredericksburg area. Some of that danger may be attributed to significant rainfall in the past two weeks, which has swollen the river with swift currents and debris.
On Saturday afternoon, Stafford divers located 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 at the time of his recovery and a PFD was not found in his recovered kayak.
Monday’s search is yet more evidence of the dangers lurking beneath the surface of the Rappahannock River, even in relatively calm-looking areas where people often congregate to relax and have fun. Local authorities and river experts are adamant that people wear life jackets for any river activities, and be exceedingly cautious whether boating, fishing, swimming or even walking on the riverbank.
Since 1985, more than 80 people have drowned in the Rappahannock, according to officials.
James Scott Baron: