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Grim overnight search for girl missing in Merrimack River crash

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CHELMSFORD — After hours of scouring the Merrimack River for a 16-year-old girl who ended up in the water when two personal watercraft collided Sunday night, emergency crews were forced to end their search until daylight.

A call about the collision in the area of the Wotton Street boat launch came at around 10 p.m., Fire Chief Gary Ryan said from the scene at around 3 a.m. when the last rescue boat was pulled from the river.

“We had all of our resources out there,” the fire chief said.

Search and rescue boats from Chelmsford, Lowell and Tyngsboro scoured the river on both shores, while a helicopter with the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing scanned vast stretches of the water from the night sky.

Family and friends of the missing teen gathered along the boat launch as the search unfolded. When the hunt was called off for the night, one distraught man wept as loved ones embraced him before departing the scene.

“They are having a very hard time with this,” Ryan said. “They want closure. They’re not going to give up on her.”

The cause of the crash remains unclear, according to the fire chief. He added that one jet ski had been pulled from the scene and is in possession of the Chelmsford Police Department.

Follow Aaron Curtis on Twitter @aselahcurtis.

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