Havre de Grace police officials have confirmed the identity of the teenager who drowned in the Susquehanna River Saturday afternoon.
Michael Jerome Sawyer, 16, of the 300 block of Seattle Slew Place, was swimming with friends off a pier near Jean S. Roberts Memorial Park in Havre de Grace Saturday afternoon when he went under and didn’t resurface. Police said he was approximately 20 yards from shore in water nine feet deep. Michael and several other friends attempted to swim back to shore, but Michael began to struggle and could not make it back to shore. At least two friends attempted to save him, according to witnesses.
The incident is still under investigation. There doesn't appear to be any suspicious activity, and drugs and alcohol were not a factor. Toxicology reports from The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner are pending.
"This incident is a horrible tragedy," Havre de Grace police spokesman PFC Jeff Gilpin said. "The Havre de Grace Police Department extends their thoughts and prayers to the family and friends of this young man."
The family has asked for privacy.
Michael was a junior at Havre de Grace High School and a member of the state runner-up Warriors football team.
A vigil has been planned for Sunday night along the Susquehanna River, and classmates are planning to wear black shirts Tuesday when class resumes following the Memorial Day holiday.
According to parents of his classmates, Sawyer was in his first year at Havre de Grace after transferring from a school in Texas. They said his family was in the military and lived in Bulle Rock.
Havre de Grace police, who are handling the investigation of the incident, officially released Michael’s identity Sunday afternoon after contacting the Sawyer family.
The Susquehanna Hose Company dive team recovered the body before 5 p.m. Saturday. Responders on the scene said there were at least four other teenagers swimming in the river.
It’s the second drowning in as many days in Harford County and the second in Havre de Grace in eight days.
Incidents like Saturday’s aren’t uncommon in Havre de Grace.
The Susquehanna River has claimed the lives of Havre de Grace teenagers before.
Two Havre de Grace Middle School eighth graders drowned in the 1990s—Michael Pangburn, 14, drowned in the river in 1995, and Terence Triplett drowned in 1996.