The body of a 6-year-old boy was recovered from a Massachusetts river over the weekend — several days after he fell into the fast-moving water during a family fishing trip and his mother drowned trying to save him.
“It is with a great sadness we must report the body of the young boy has been recovered,” Amesbury police said Sunday on Facebook, after Mason DeChhat’s body was discovered by a kayaker three days after the child was swept away in the Merrimack River.
“The family has been notified, and we pray this gives the family some closure,” police added.
Mason was with his mother, Boua, 29, father Sammy, 31, sisters, Kayleen, 12, and Elyssa, 7, and brother, Kayden, 14, on a fishing trip off Deer Island on Thursday when he reached into the water to try and grab a stick, State Police said.
He apparently lost his footing, fell into the river and was swept away around 7 p.m.
His dad was retrieving some gear from the family’s car at a parking lot at the time, cops said.
Little Elyssa tried to catch her brother but also slipped into the water and was carried away by the strong current, too, authorities said.
Despite not knowing how to swim, their mother then jumped into the water in a desperate attempt to rescue both kids – but was swept along with Elyssa under the Whittier Bridge.
By this time, Sammy returned to the scene and saw his wife and daughter struggling in the water.
He jumped into the river and quickly got in trouble himself because he, too, doesn’t know how to swim, but he managed to make it back to shore.
Eventually, a local boater saw Boua and Elyssa and pulled them aboard, WCVB reported.
Mason was nowhere to be found at the time.
Mark Bajko, a bystander, told WCVB that he and a cop administered CPR to Boua.
“I’m going as hard as I can. 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,’ ” Bajko said.
“And he takes over, and I stand up, and in that moment and that second, a little girl stopped crying and yells, ‘My brother is still in the water!’ ” he added.
Boua was pronounced dead at Anna Jacques Hospital in Newburyport. Elyssa was treated and released, and Sammy was taken to Seabrook Hospital in New Hampshire, where he was treated for hypothermia and exposure, officials said.
Taking part in the continuing search for Mason were 12 divers from the Massachusetts State Police Underwater Recovery Unit, four boat operators from the Marine Unit and Boston Fire Department divers.
The Amesbury and Newburyport Fire and Police departments, the US Coast Guard and cops and firefighters from the surrounding area also took part in the massive effort.
After a three-day search, Mason’s body was discovered by a kayaker in the Pipers Quarry area about 2 p.m. Sunday, state troopers said.
“We’ve seen several tragedies on the river but not usually where a whole family is affected,” Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire told WCVB.
“It is a sad situation, and we had a lot of hope [Thursday] night. A lot of agencies – state agencies, local agencies – put a lot of effort into trying to find this 6-year-old,” he added.
Local Richard Nagle of Salisbury said he knows firsthand how strong the current can be.
“It happens so fast, and you don’t expect it. That’s what it is. I’m sure these poor people thought it was going to be a nice day, and it’s just unfortunate,” Nagle told WBZ-TV.
Three of the four children attend Murkland Elementary School in Lowell, Mass., according to a GoFundMe page that has raised over $103,000 for the family’s funeral costs and other expenses as of early Monday afternoon.