Family Finds Body of Missing Swimmer in Delaware River

Family members found the body of a swimmer who disappeared in the Delaware River over the weekend in Bucks County. 

NBC10's Denise Nakano was interviewing the mother of 22-year-old Marquis Richardson in the area of the Bristol Borough Park along the Delaware River around 6 p.m. Tuesday when family members noticed his body floating in the water. They then went out in a fishing boat and recovered his body. 

"I wasn't leaving here until I found my son," said Sam Richardson, Marquis' father. "I did a lot of praying. I don't have my son here on earth no more. He's in my heart. He's in my spirit. He'll always be my little man. I love him to death. And we got him out of that damn water." 

Nakano called 911 after the family discovered the body. A coroner, police and other officials later responded to the scene. 

Richardson's body surfaced about 1000 feet from where he first went missing in the Delaware River Sunday. He was in the water at Bristol Wharf, off of Mill and Radcliffe streets when he disappeared.

"When I got the text I was in church," said Richardson's aunt Judy Cowan. "I just broke down and everybody in church said a prayer for him and for the family." 

Cowan told NBC10 that Richardson, who had moved from Camden to Virginia, was with his girlfriend at the park when he went under the water. Witnesses told NBC10 it happened in a split second.

"He touched the buoy twice," said Jerry Shumsonk of Fairless Hills. "It seemed like he was doing okay. The front stroke and everything looked impressive. And he left the buoy and he went down the water a little bit."

The witnesses saw Richardson communicate with his girlfriend who was on the shore. Then they heard his frantic cries for help.

"I saw him go under the water about three times," Shumsonk said. "The fourth time he never came out. I got up and called 911." 

New Jersey State Police and the Coast Guard were among entities that responded and conducted the search. They switched to recovery mode and divers then joined the search. 

Around 5 p.m. Sunday officials suspended the search due to a dangerous current.

Cowan told NBC10 Tuesday her family was frustrated by what they believe was a lack of help from officials during the recovery effort. 

"There were a few people out there on boats riding around but as far as divers, the only divers were our family members," Cowan said. "We didn't get no help at all. And it's very frustrating."

Officials said the Bristol Wharf is a particularly dangerous section of the Delaware to swim, because the river goes from four to five feet and drops off suddenly to about 20 feet.

Richardson's family plans to follow up with Bristol Borough officials about recovery efforts and getting signs warning swimmers to stay out of the water. 

Richardson is the third person who drowned while swimming in the Delaware River over the past few days. On Saturday 41-year-old Jason Moser of Myerstown was trying to swim across the river in the area of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area when he went under about 2:30 p.m. Authorities said his body was recovered about two hours later in 10 feet of water in an area called Shad Rocks between Bushkill Access and Smithfield Beach.

Park superintendent John Donahue said after the drowning that the Delaware's current is strong and quick, and the depth can change suddenly, "often going from knee-deep to over your head in a single step."

Also on Sunday, Thomas Scott, a father of two, drowned in the Delaware River in Burlington City, New Jersey.

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