Boy dead, mother hospitalized in trauma center after being pulled out of Pine Creek

WATERVILLE — A vacation outing for an out-of-town Mennonite family turned tragic Tuesday afternoon when a 7-year-old boy drowned in Pine Creek and his mother was clinging to life in a trauma center, according to investigators.

Both the woman and her son were unresponsive when pulled from the creek, which was believed to be about 10 feet deep or less, investigators said.

Family members or other swimmers already had pulled the mother on to the west shore of the creek when volunteer firefighters arrived on the scene in the 7600 block of Route 44, just north of the Watson-Cummings Township line, about 2:45 p.m., investigators said. Her son was not located in the water until about an hour later.

To get the mother to the Route 44 side of the creek, emergency responders initially loaded her onto an amphibious ATV, but the vehicle upset shortly after leaving the west shoreline, investigators said.

The woman was immediately pulled again out of the water and this time loaded onto a rescue boat from the Independent Hose Co., of Jersey Shore, that brought her to shore. Emergency responders performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation all the way to Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, where they were finally able to get her pulse.

She has since been flown to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville. Her identity and medical condition were not available Tuesday night.

Investigators believe the victims had initially entered the creek on the Route 44 (east) side of the water.

Once the woman was brought to shore, an extensive search for her son resumed.

Divers were dispatched to the scene, but it turned out they were not needed.

“We found him,” one firefighter on Independent’s rescue boat was heard saying upon discovering the child in the water, about three-quarters out from the Route 44 side of the creek, just before 4 p.m.

After the boy was pulled onto the rescue boat, volunteer firefighters immediately began performing CPR and continued all the way to Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital, where the child was pronounced dead at 4:46 p.m., according to Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr., who ruled the death an accidental drowning.

“A tragic accident,” he said.

“With as much rain we’ve had in recent days, the water could suddenly be very swift, with strong undercurrents (catching swimmers off-guard),” Kiessling said.

He said the mother and son were from Myerstown, a small borough in Lebanon County. The child’s name was expected to be released later today.

Firefighters from Waterville, Jersey Shore, Cammal, Avis and Lock Haven responded to the water rescue.

About a half dozen state troopers as well as two waterways conservation officers from the state Fish and Boat Commission also responded to the scene.

Water conservation officers at the scene declined to comment. They said a media representative at the Harrisburg office of state Fish and Boat Commission might have more information about the drowning later today.