Community Mourns Teen Who Drowned In Upstate River

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Photo of Johnathan Hernandez courtesy of Imgrum.

Candles and mementos were seen last night on the benches of Milestone Park on 18th Avenue.

The makeshift memorial honors 18-year-old Johnathan Hernandez, who died on Saturday, August 27th, while swimming in the Delaware River, the Times Herald-Record first reported.

“Jonathan was a beautiful human being. He was a great kid. He was loved by so many,” the teen’s father, Jose Hernandez, told Time Warner Cable News.

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Photo: Bensonhurst Bean

Hernandez and a friend had reportedly traveled upstate to go tubing on the Delaware River on August 27th. They rented tubes from an operator in Barryville, which is in Sullivan County, about two hours from New York City.

Hernandez and his friend were floating down the Delaware River on their way back to Barryville on Saturday afternoon when Hernandez apparently decided to go for a swim. He reached the Pennsylvania side of the river, but grew tired and slipped under the surface when he attempted to swim back, the Times Herald-Record reports.

The distance across the Delaware River near Barryville varies, but it is substantial. The Barryville-Shohola Bridge, which spans the river connecting New York to Pennsylvania, is 812 feet (247 meters) long, almost five times the length of an Olympic swimming pool.

First responders and the Sullivan County Dive Team began to search for Hernandez soon after a 911 call was made, but his body was not recovered until Sunday morning.

State Police senior investigator Bill Fitzmaurice told the Times Herald-Record that Hernandez was not wearing a life jacket.

“It may look shallow here, but there’s a point where the river reaches 15-20 feet deep,” Fitzmaurice explained, adding that the water is “deceiving. The current picks up underneath.”

Hernandez’ father told Time Warner Cable News that he asked his son to wear a life jacket while he was out in the water.

“And he didn’t listen and if everybody’s out their listening and you’re out in water danger is possible,” Jose Hernandez said. “If anybody’s out there listening and you’re out in water…put on your life vest because it will save you.”

A memorial post on Imgrum states that “friends remember him [Johnathan Hernandez] as being funny, and a talented football player. Our sympathies to his loved ones and friends on his loss. Rest easy Johnathan.”