Manassas Journal Messenger | Divers recover bodies of boy, man from Potomac River

Divers on Monday afternoon recovered the body of a 33-year-old Manassas man who drowned Sunday while trying to rescue boys who were caught in Potomac River currents off Leesylvania State Park.

Christopher Meehan’s body was recovered at approximately 1:30 p.m. near the park’s pier, not far from where divers found the body of 10-year-old Chester Saykhamphone late Sunday night.

Chester, who lived in Springfield, and his four cousins swam out past a fishing pier and were trapped in strong currents, according to 1st Sgt. Kim Chinn, Prince William police spokeswoman.

Although police said four boys were rescued, Jose Tejada said Sunday he pulled five boys to safety with his Jet Ski — four to a boat and one back to shore.

Family members looked on as Prince William police dive team members searched the river’s murky water Monday morning.

The divers were joined by Manassas City police dive team members, an Occoquan-Woodbridge-Lorton Volunteer Fire Department boat and Potomac Marine tow boats.

The cousins, ranging from 8 to 14 years old, were at the river with family members who are from different areas in Northern Virginia.

Early reports say the boys were caught in currents that came with the rising tides and were carried away from shore, Ting Panya, the 29-year-old aunt of one of the boys, said Sunday. Panya ran to get the boys’ parents when she saw them struggling.

“I had to run from the shore to the picnic tables,” Panya said. “By then it was too late. They already went out too far.”

Her nephew, Tyler Somesaymay, was rescued along with his cousins by a pleasure boat and Tejada.

Tyler clung to a piling off shore while Tejada rescued the other boys. Tyler said Sunday that he thought he was going to die.

This was the second fatal accident to occur off Leesylvania’s shores this month. A 20-year-old woman riding on an OWL Fire Department rescue boat was killed when she was thrown from the boat as it made its way into shore at about 11:40 p.m. July 4.

Elisa Escalante’s accident occurred near a piling off the pier, but farther into the river than Sunday’s drownings. That accident is being investigated by the Prince William County police.

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