Updated: No One Missing in Merrimack River Boat Theft and Mishap

Photo: Sample Massachusetts State Police Helicopter (courtesy of State Police Airwing Section).

A boy, initially reported missing in the Merrimack River, actually safely swam to shore, Haverhill Police said this morning.

Police received a report of a young boy stranded in a boat in the Merrimack River in the area of 232 River St. The 13-year-old boy reported to police that a 17-year old acquaintance had stolen the boat and picked him up behind the Moody School area of the river. The 13-year-old told police the two drove the boast west towards the Route 495 Bridge and the 17-year-old fell into the river after horsing around and never resurfaced.

“Police are confident that all parties are accounted for and no one is missing in the Merrimack River. The investigation is ongoing and charges are probable,” according to a press release issued by Detective Lieutenant Robert Pistone.

Based on the boy’s story Massachusetts State Police troopers, State Police Air wing, State Police Dive team, Haverhill Fire, Haverhill Harbormaster, Haverhill Police and Methuen Police deployed multiple resources and searched the Merrimack River until approximately 11 p.m. when it was determined that the search would resume today with a dive team from the MSP.

Haverhill Detectives and a state police trooper assigned to the Essex County District Attorney’s Office interviewed the 13-year-old boy late last night. Through the investigation and interview it was determined that the 13-year-old stole a boat on River Street along with another juvenile boy, and they only made their way up river a couple hundred yards when the power boat lost power and they became stranded. One of the boys safely swam to shore while the reporting 13 year old stayed on the boat until rescue personnel arrived.

Original Story:

New details are expected from Haverhill Police today regarding a search for a 17-year-old at first believed to have fallen from a boat into the Merrimack River last night off River Street.

This morning, a Haverhill Police spokesperson said it appears a 13-year-old boy in a boat acted alone by stealing a boat from a River Street dock and no one fell overboard. Earlier reports indicated a boat carrying the boys overturned in waters near the Methuen line. Members of Haverhill police and fire departments, as well as Methuen and state police, helped conduct a search for several hours before the effort was suspended late last night.

Initial reports from police and fire officials say the incident occurred at about 8 p.m., yesterday, on the water near the Methuen line. The 13-year-old's condition is unknown since being rescued at a nearby dock. The boat was allegedly taken from a Haverhill resident. An initial search for the 17-year-old, which also involved Methuen Police and a state police helicopter, was suspended late last night. The search efforts concentrated on the area between the I-495 river overpass and the Comeau Bridge downtown.