Mason DeChhat: Body of boy, 6, found after mom drowned trying to save him and sister
Mason DeChhat was swept away while trying to look for something in the fast-flowing river when the family had gone to the Merrimack River in Amesbury
The body of a six-year-old boy has been found after his mother reportedly drowned while trying to save him and his seven-year-old sister from a river. The boy's body was found three days after he fell into the water. After the incident, his family and local first responders had launched a massive rescue operation.
The family had gone to the Merrimack River in Amesbury, Massachusetts on June 9 to fish and swim. The children's father, 31, went to their car at 7 pm to get something, only to come back and discover that their son, Mason DeChhat, had been swept away while trying to look for something in the fast-flowing river.
According to police, the boy's sister, Elyssa, tried to hold him back as he was pulled into the river. She eventually fell into the water too. Boua DeChhat, their mother, jumped into the water to try and save her children. Boua, however, did not know how to swim. Massachusetts State Police said that they were all caught in the strong current.
The father came back from his car and found his wife and daughter in the water. He jumped into the river but could not rescue them. Someone in a boat saw the mother and daughter afloat, struggling as the current carried them inland. The mother, who tried to hoist herself up, eventually disappeared under the water.
A bystander, Mark Bajko, and a police officer tried administering CPR to the mother after pulling her up. "I'm going as hard as I can," Bajko told WCVB. "I've already called 911 on my way over and I'm doing CPR and finally, a police officer taps me and says, 'Hey let me take over.' And he takes over and I stand up and at that moment and that second, a little girl stopped crying and yells, 'My brother is still in the water.'" The mother and daughter were rushed to Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport, from where the seven-year-old was later released. Boua could not be saved.
A rescue operation was launched for Mason, with the Coast Guard, harbormasters, state police, local police, fire departments, and state environmental police searching the area. About 10 state police divers were involved. Helicopters searched the area too. On Friday, June 10, the search was halted at 5 pm.
"It is always a difficult decision to suspend a search and rescue case, and even more painful when children are involved," said Capt Kailie Benson, Coast Guard Sector Boston Commander. It was announced on Sunday, June 12, that the boy's body had been tragically recovered. "It is with a great sadness we must report the body of the young boy has been recovered. The family has been notified and we pray this gives the family some closure," Amesbury Police Department said on Facebook.
Mason's body was discovered by a kayaker about a half-mile from where he was last seen. “I saw something floating and I was hoping it was a stick, and then as I got closer realized what it was and called 911,” the kayaker reportedly said. "It’s just awful.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to support the family after the tragedy. When this article was written, $99,636 USD had been raised for the $100,000 goal.