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Police, firefighters search for missing Northampton woman along Mill River

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for missing women in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Capt. John D. Cartledge, with the Northampton Police Department and Assistant Fire Chief Jon Davine talk to the media Wednesday about the search-and-rescue operation along the Mill River. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River in Northampton on Wednesday. STAFF PHOTOS/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Eamonn Mohan, back left, Dan Gwozdzik, Justin Mieczkowski, and Ray Messier, all employees at Orchard Electric located next to the Mill River, take a break and watch as search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. They all commented on how high the water had been the last two days since the rain. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Search and rescue teams look for a missing woman in the Mill River on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 19, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — Police and firefighters are still looking for a Northampton woman who appears to have gone missing while swimming in the Mill River Tuesday.

After an extensive search involving a helicopter and dive team Tuesday night, Northampton police and state police continued their search for the woman in and around the river Wednesday, along with Northampton firefighters and the Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team.

Rescue efforts ended around 6 p.m., and Northampton police said they would resume early Thursday morning.

At a morning press conference near the Elks Club on Spring Street, Police Capt. John Cartledge and Assistant Fire Chief Jon Davine declined to identify the woman or release her age or any other identifying information. They said the swimmer’s family had been notified of rescue efforts.

Cartledge described the effort as a “search-and-rescue type operation.”

Emergency services responded to the area of the Mill River for a report of unattended items at 7:26 p.m. Tuesday. The items included a towel, car keys and clothing, and the response was near Pine Street and the Brushworks Arts & Industry building in Florence.

The keys were used to identify a nearby vehicle, whose regular driver was determined to be a Northampton woman whose friends said she regularly swims in the river.

Police said they became concerned when the woman did not return. The river current was strong and water level high due to recent heavy rains.

Davine said the state police dive team had been deployed once during the search.

The state police helicopter searched the entire length of the river along with a drone deployed by Northampton police, Sgt. Josef Barszcz said.

Around 5 p.m. Wednesday, the helicopter could be seen from Maines Field in Florence and a search-and-rescue party from the Fire Department entered the woods by the river.

Because parts of the riverbank are dense with brush and trees, the rescue party had difficulty getting to the river in many places, according to Barszcz.

Davine advised people to stay away from the Mill River until the water level goes down.

“Once you get in there, it’s really hard to get out,” he said.

He said anyone who may find themselves being swept up by a river current should try to get to shore and call for help.

“Try to gain somebody’s attention,” he said.

Northampton police are asking for anybody who sees anything along the river to contact the police station dispatch.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.