LAKE LUZERNE - A missing swimmer who was "sucked under" by the Hudson River's strong current Sunday is presumed to have drowned following an unsuccessful, multi-agency search, police said.
The man, whose name was withheld pending notification of his family, was swimming with about six other friends north of Rockwell Bridge when he attempted to cross from the Hadley side to the Lake Luzerne side around 4:30 p.m.
According to Warren County Sheriff Bud York, the 20-year-old man got caught in the current and drifted downstream past the bridge. He was seen floating face down about 2 feet underwater before witnesses lost sight of him.
A search was terminated Sunday night due to darkness, and will resume Monday morning.
The current also nearly claimed one of the man's friends, who was pulled under but managed to make it to shore moments later.
Jim McChesney, an East Greenbush resident who witnessed the incident, had planned to swim along that section of the river Sunday, but decided the current was too strong to risk it.
He and a few friends were hanging out under the bridge watching others when they saw the swimmer get sucked under.
"We saw his body underwater, barely moving," McChesney said.
York said that section of the Hudson is particularly dangerous; he estimated five or six other swimmers have required rescue there in the past 10 years.
"It's a very difficult spot," Warren County Fire Coordinator Brian LaFlure said. "There's a lot of undercurrents, caves and crevices."
In November 2000, state Supreme Court ordered the town of Lake Luzerne to pay $4 million to the family of Steven Romero, a Clifton Park teenager who drowned downstream of the Bridge Street bridge in 1994.
An attorney representing the family argued that the town had shown "a pattern of some indifference" to the dangers of the area. The town argued that it can't prevent people from swimming there.
Dive teams from Corinth, Lake George and Horicon participated in the search Sunday.