A diver from the Maine Warden Service recovered the body of a 17-year-old Freeport boy who drowned Friday after using a rope swing on the Saco River in Buxton.

Steel Crawford, who was swimming with friends at Pleasant Point Park, let go of the rope swing and landed awkwardly in deep water and never surfaced, Mark Latti, spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said in a statement.

Game Warden Bruce Loring recovered Crawford’s body about 7 p.m. He was found in about 50 feet of water down river from the Route 202 bridge and upriver of the Skelton Dam, Latti said. Wardens had been searching by boat and along the shore while they also used a drone flying overhead to provide video of the river.

Freeport school officials expressed shock and sadness over the tragedy late Friday, and said counselors will be available for students and staff from noon until 2 p.m. Saturday at the high school, which also would be open for the community to gather for support.

“Steel was a beloved member of our school family. He was a close friend to many students and was passionate about athletics. He was a member of the varsity lacrosse team and had hopes of continuing his play into college,” Freeport High School Principal Jen Gulko said in an email Friday night. “We will remember Steel’s zest for life, his smile and his loyalty to his friends and teammates. He will be deeply missed by all.”

Family and friends of the teenager congregated at Pleasant Point Park. Many appeared to be friends or classmates of Crawford, a rising senior at Freeport.

“We are all very shocked and saddened by the tragic news of Steel’s drowning,” Regional School Unit 5 Superintendent Becky Foley said in an email Friday night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Steel’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

Buxton Police Chief Troy Cline urged anyone who intends to use a rope swing to exercise extreme caution. Cline said his preference would be to remove rope swings, but said he would expect kids to put them back up again.

“Just some kids having fun,” Cline said when asked about the tragedy Friday afternoon.

Wardens were assisted by members of the Buxton Police Department, Buxton Fire Department, Saco Fire Department, Standish Fire Department, York County EMA, Kennebunk Fire Department, Goodwins Mills Fire Department, Hollis Fire Department and Maine State Police.

Latti said Crawford’s body will be examined by the state Medical Examiner’s Office, which is standard in drowning deaths.

 

 

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