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Starksboro man drowns while helping to save his son

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Posted on July 13, 2016 |
By Addison Independent



FERRISBURGH — A 36-year-old Starksboro man died on Thursday morning, July 7, at the University of Vermont Medical Center as a result of a July 6 swimming incident while trying to rescue his son in the waters of Lake Champlain at Button Bay State Park.

Vermont State Police said Jason Russell died at around 4 a.m.

State police responded to Button Bay State Park at around 5 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving a call about a boy having trouble swimming.

The investigation revealed the boy was trying to swim from shore to a small island a short distance away, located within Button Bay State Park. The boy had successfully made it halfway to the island when he appeared to have trouble swimming, according to police. At this point, the boy yelled to shore for help and his dad jumped into the water in an effort to save his son.

But Russell started experiencing trouble swimming as he made his way to his son, according to witnesses. Still, Russell was able to reach his son and lift him out of the water, police said. Russell then started to submerge under water while elevating his son, authorities said.

 With rescue officials responding to the scene, Aaron Morris — the boy’s mom — was able to find a kayak and paddled out to her son’s and husband’s location, according to VSP.  The boy was able to hang onto the front of the kayak, but Russell at this point was unresponsive, police said. Morris grabbed Russell and tried to lift him out of the water, while some folks in a nearby boat saw what was going on and came over to help. The crew lifted the boy into the boat, but where unable to get Russell into the vessel, according to authorities. Some people in a second boat ultimately arrived on scene and helped get Russell out of the water, police said.

Vergennes Rescue, the Ferrisburgh Fire Department, Middlebury Rescue and Charlotte Rescue all responded to the scene and worked diligently to revive Russell, who was still unresponsive when he reached the shore, according to VSP.

 Both Russell and his son were taken to UVM Medical Center, where the boy was evaluated and released and Russell was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit, where he died Thursday morning.

Police do not suspect alcohol or drugs played any role in the incident.

This incident is still under investigation and any witnesses are asked to call VSP at 388-4919 with information.

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