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47-year-old man drowns in Niagara River

Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-08 16:30:34-04

According to the New York State Park Police, a 47-year-old man has drowned after swimming in the Niagara River Friday night.

The State Park Police Dispatch received reports from the Erie County Sheriff of a "person in distress" in river.

The victim, identified as Rajesh Chopra from Clarence, was with a group of 10 friends at Grass Island. According to the press release, friends were not able to rescue Chopra as he struggled to stay afloat in the water.

Responders arrived on the scene at the south end of Buckhorn State Park and found the victim in the water approximately 100 feet north of Grass Island. The Erie County Sheriff's dive team recovered the victim, and transported him to the Erie County Medical Examiner's Office.

Sergeant Jeffrey Eckert from the New York State Park Police was on the scene Friday night.

"I would be very careful swimming there," Sergeant Eckert advised. "There's some strong currents around there."

According to Sergeant Eckert, Chopra and two friends jumped off a pontoon boat. The friends made it back safely, but around 8:30pm Chopra had trouble returning.

"They were unsuccessful getting to him," said Sergeant Eckert. "He went under the water and they were unable to find him."

He added that the area their pontoon boat was located in is usually safe.

"People dock their boats there and the water in most parts is no more than waist-deep maybe a little deeper," Sergeant Eckert said. "Perfect area to go swimming."

But once you drift away from those waters it can get dangerous.

"In that particular area, yes it is shallow, but once you go out into the river, the currents are very strong," said Sergeant Eckert.

He added that it took around an hour and a half to rescue the body of the victim.

"There were boats on scene," said Sergeant Eckert. "Erie County Sheriff's dive team actually recovered the body. It was a chaotic scene to say the least."