AmeriCorps volunteer drowns in Connecticut River

Submitted 2 years ago
Created by
Eric Francis

Alaska man's body recovered near Cornish

CORNISH, NH - The body of a 21-year-old AmeriCorps volunteer from Alaska was recovered from the Connecticut River as the sun set Tuesday evening after he apparently drowned while swimming with a friend off the bank of the Blow Me Down Farm beside Route 12 in Cornish.

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    The victim, who had been working this summer with the Student Conservation Association at the nearby St. Gaudens National Park, was identified Wednesday morning as Reed McWilliams of Bethel, Alaska.

Reed McWilliams of Bethel, Alaska. Photo courtesy of the Student Conservation Association at the University of Alaska Southeast

    Rescuers on both the New Hampshire and Vermont banks of the river activated the Upper Valley's automatic Water Rescue Response Plan just before 6 p.m. after the Hanover Dispatch Center received a 911 call reporting that McWilliams was missing and had last been seen swimming across the river towards Windsor.

    Police said McWilliams had been out swimming with a female companion who was also a member of the federally-sponsored community service program and she placed the 911 call summoning emergency responders after he failed to resurface.    

    Firefighters and rescue squad members from Cornish, Plainfield, Meridan, Lebanon, and Claremont searched along the New Hampshire side of the river while the Hartford, Hartland and Windsor fire departments deployed on the Vermont side.  Several of those town's police agencies and the New Hampshire State Police along with New Hamsphire Fish & Game wardens also assisted with the effort.

    Boats from the Lebanon, Hanover, Hartford and Claremont fire departments were put in the water at various points along the river and at 7:18 p.m. members of the Lebanon Fire Department spotted McWilliams in about 8 to 10 feet of water.

    The body was swiftly recovered by members of the Hanover Fire Department Dive Team and McWilliams was pronounced dead at the scene by a representative of the New Hampshire Medical Examiner's Office.


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