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18-year-old being called a hero after drowning while saving brothers


HADDAM, Conn. (WTNH) — The body of an 18-year-old boy who went missing in the Connecticut River on Monday was recovered Wednesday.

Family and community members of Khailon Rivers are calling him a hero for saving his brothers. Rivers was one of seven siblings.

“I think he was very brave, and I’m really impressed by what he did,” said Delilah Polumbo. “I feel so bad for the family, his whole entire family.”

On Tuesday afternoon, DEEP said that they were qualifying it as a search and recovery mission. On Wednesday, they recovered the Middletown teen’s body in the Connecticut River.

The family was spending their Monday afternoon at Haddam Meadows State Park when Rivers’ younger brothers went into the water just before 5 p.m. Rivers then went in after them.

In a matter of seconds, the teenager went under and didn’t come back up. DEEP and Connecticut State Police worked alongside one another to recover his body.

The family told News 8 that Rivers died a hero and that’s how they’ll always remember him. They say he could not swim but went in after his siblings anyway.

The family also says Rivers’ younger brothers have nightmares now following their brother’s death: “He says every night that he sees him going under the water; that’s his memory,” Rivers’ aunt told News 8 Thursday.

The family says there needs to be more signs warning swimmers of the dangers of swimming at their own risk in the Connecticut River.

A vigil will be held for Rivers Friday night at 5:30 p.m. at the CT River. Anyone is welcome. You are encouraged to wear a mask and social distance.

WEB EXTRA: Middletown family’s plea after a teen drowned in the CT River rescuing his siblings

“We extend our condolences to the Rivers family in their loss,” said DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Col. Chris Lewis. “We commend the multiple responding agencies for their immediate and robust assistance in the search and recovery effort.”

“Similar circumstances have happened in the past is my understanding,” said Will Healey, DEEP Spokesperson. “You know we encourage people to just be as careful as they can be”

DEEP encourages residents to review safety guidelines if recreating near or in waterbodies this summer.

In 2017, there was a similar incident. A boy tried to save another swimmer’s life after entering the river from the sandbar.

The question, how do we stop history from repeating itself and from parents losing their children?

“Exactly where the sandbar is, I tell my granddaughter never to go where she can’t touch, so as long as she could touch then she’s fine,” Polumbo said. “I make sure that I stay behind her so she’s in front of me always.”

DEEP recommends the following practices when swimming at any body of water:

  • Parents, watch your children.
  • Be aware of underwater hazards.
  • Swim only in the designated areas, and stay where the lifeguards can see you.
  • Take a swimming lesson.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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