Putnam man dead in Hudson River drowning
A Garrison man died a hero Friday night while attempting to rescue his seven year old niece, who slipped off a raft while boating in the Hudson River off Charles Point in Peekskill.
The 52-year-old victim was identified Saturday afternoon as Christopher Baisley of Upland Drive in Garrison.
Police said Baisley was boating with his two nieces and nephew, who were visiting from Florida, when he reportedly observed the little girl in distress. She was being pulled on a raft and he jumped into the water to assist.
Police said the child fell off the raft and Baisley, who was not wearing a life jacket, jumped into rescue her. Investigators believe the victim inhaled a large amount of water and drowned.
Police said the boat began to drift away as the other occupants pulled the child to safety after Baisley had placed her back on the rubber raft.
When Baisley failed to surface, calls went out for assistance and the Putnam County Sheriff's Department Marine Division which was summoned to assist Westchester County and U.S. Coast Guard units found the small boat with its occupants frightened but otherwise OK.
A passing cruise ship found the man's body near where a Peekskill city celebration was taking place a short time later. Baisley was pronounced dead at 8:30 p.m.
Baisley's mother, Christine Baisley, said her entire family was in shock: "We still can't believe what happened. He was such a strong swimmer. He died saving his favorite niece."
Sheriff Don Smith called the incident a "terrible tragedy. Any loss of life is horrific. Our thoughts and prayers go to the victim's family."