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Teen dies after jumping into Charles from Weeks bridge

State Police report an 18-year-old died from drowning in the Charles River tonight.

Witnesses report seeing a male go into the Charles River [around 8:45 p.m.] come up with arms flailing and go under and not come back up. The 17 year old male victim was located approximately 25 minutes later by Cambridge Fire Department Divers. Cambridge EMS transported him to Beth Israel where he was pronounced deceased.

Jumping off the bridge is a tradition for students at Harvard, including students at the school's summer session.

In May, a man died after jumping off the bridge.

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Comments

I hope it's not one of my Summer School students. Tragedies like this always make me nervous that it will be someone I know - because that has happened before.

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There are many such "jumping spots" on area waterways that are unusually dangerous right now.

I don't know if that is specifically the case at this footbridge, or if shallow water contributed, but it is entirely possible that what is normally six to eight feet of water or more is now three to five feet of water.

General rule: always check your depth first, and use the buddy system.

I'm very sorry to hear what was probably a celebration has ended in tragedy. Very sad indeed.

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This is the Charles. While not technically tidal, it is connected to the ocean and the water level is actively managed by the locks at the mouth of the river. It shouldn't vary much.

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I was on my boat and watched police and fire and state police canvasing the area. Crime scene tape around the bridge. It did not look good at all.

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Thoughts and prayers for the teen's family and friends.

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Did he hit something or was he caught in an undercurrent?
Was he drunk and couldn't make it to shore?

Does anyone know what the usual cause is in cases like this?

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Swimming in an open water situation is very different from swimming in a pool. More than a few people have overestimated their swimming abilities and then panicked, and then forgot how to float.

People also injure themselves when they hit the water. Lots of things can go wrong.

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Overestimate their swimming abilities period.

If I had a dollar for the number of times I've received a job application from a prospective lifeguard/swim instructor who's "a really good swimmer" who, at the interview, can't put their face in the water or make it one time across the pool, I'd be very wealthy.

Or the parents who argue with me "my kid took swim lessons they're a great swimmer!" And the kid can barely dog paddle. "But they took lessons for a whole week, they're great swimmers!"

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This is true.

Swimming in an open water situation is very different from swimming in a pool.

I swim over a mile in the pool at least twice a week, but I freak out in open water and struggle to make it more than a couple hundred yards.

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"Swimming in an open water situation is very different from swimming in a pool." So true, and when you add in factors like hazards (which exist in pretty much anything that's not a swimming pool), current, tides, waves, etc., you can run into situations that are beyond ANYONE's swimming ability. A "strong swimmer" in whitewater is just a particularly artistic victim if they don't know about whitewater hazards (and have a certain amount of luck). I've seen people who insisted "I'm a strong swimmer", or better yet "but I'm wearing a life jacket!" (as if PFDs came with a guarantee that the wearer cannot possibly drown in any situation), hop onto a river in flood while seated on top of an inner tube. The lucky ones got pummeled so badly they'll probably never even go near a bathtub again. The unlucky ones forced someone to recover their body and then call their next of kin.

Everybody wants to go in the water in summer. Nobody wants to die. We don't just need more learn-to-swim programs, particularly in urban areas -- we need to educate people about their limits.

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he was my friend, he wasn't drunk and his mom believes he had an asthma attack when he hit the water and that's what made him go under and not come back up.
it a Harvard tradition to jump off the bridge at the end of the school year to celebrate.
thank you for asking before assuming, a lot of people are saying really nasty things about him.

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I'd love to know what happened in the Charles, but while discussing this victim and the sad story of the young day-camper who drown this week, this article points out that real drowning victims don't act like the ones on TV.

This is an important read if you ever boat, swim, visit the beach, etc.

People in trouble in the water often don't look like they're in trouble!

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/family/2013/06/rescuing...

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I've hauled a couple of kids out of the local swimming hole who were quietly drowning like this. I just happened to be near them and trained to know what I was looking at. In both cases, I had no problem alerting the lifeguards - they were watching and reacted quickly, but the pond was mobbed and they just didn't see what I saw.. It was a very good thing that I got to those kids when I did, when they were still visible and easily carried in. (one time was a 11-12 year old; the other was probably a 9-10 year old.)

That was the summer that the guards made all the kids come in to chest height whenever I left the water with my kids, or to use the restroom or get some slush.

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The link to the 5/22/10 post shows people jumping off the bridge. But it doesn't say anything about them being Harvard students, summer or otherwise.

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The article says that "jumping into the Charles River is a Harvard tradition, according to numerous blogs and websites."

But googling it only found this Uhub post, and a Harvard Crimson Flyby blog post from 2012 which isn't entirely serious.

It would be hard for the Summer School to have any traditions, since hardly anyone goes there more than once.

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