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Teen swimmer who drowned in Groton’s Squannacook River was Leominster HS student

As a result of recent rain, the Squannacook River has high water and a rapid current.  A 17-year-old male swimmer was recovered from the river near the Peter E. Bertozzi Wildlife Management Area and was later pronounced dead Wednesday. SUN/Jake Vitali
As a result of recent rain, the Squannacook River has high water and a rapid current. A 17-year-old male swimmer was recovered from the river near the Peter E. Bertozzi Wildlife Management Area and was later pronounced dead Wednesday. SUN/Jake Vitali
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GROTON — The 17-year-old male swimmer who drowned in the Squannacook River on Wednesday was a student at Leominster High School, officials said in a statement.

Recovery efforts for a missing swimmer were underway on Wednesday afternoon. The town’s fire department located the swimmer at 4:32 p.m. and subsequently transported him to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

District Attorney Marian Ryan and Chief of Police Michael Luth confirmed in a statement that an open investigation into the drowning started around 3:19 p.m. Wednesday. The drowning occurred near the Peter E. Bertozzi Wildlife Management Area.

“The preliminary information suggests that a group of five friends were allegedly jumping in and out of the river using a rope swing. When they attempted to cross the river, one of them, a 17-year-old male, went underwater and did not resurface,” the statement reads.

Leominster School District Superintendent Paula Deacon confirmed in an email Thursday the victim as a student in the district.

“We wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.  Please keep them in your thoughts in the following days.  Our crisis team is in place and will be available to offer support to anyone who needs it,” wrote Deacon in the email.

Ryan and Luth said during the recovery efforts, the river level was high with a visibly strong current due to recent rain.

The identity of the swimmer was not immediately released.

It has been a tragic summer on Massachusetts waterways, with a large number of drownings prompting warnings statewide, and even a state push to offer more free swimming lessons.

On July 6, an 11-year-old girl was pulled from the Merrimack River by a passerby, but later died at a Boston hospital. That same day, a toddler was pulled from a pool in Tewksbury by his 11-year-old sister. A family member then resuscitated with directions from police dispatchers.

11-year-old girl pulled from Merrimack River in Lowell dies