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Massachusetts Man Believed To Have Drowned In Swift River

Video: Man Slipped Off Rock Into River

ALBANY, N.H. -- Crews continued searching Monday for a man believed to have drowned when he slipped and fell into the Swift River on Sunday.

Officials said David Hildebrandt, 29, of Dorchester, Mass., was camping along the river when he slipped off a rock at the Lower Falls. He was with friends at the time, but they could only watch as he was pulled under the fast-moving water.

"He slipped on a wet rock and into the river he went, and within a very short period of time, he went under the water," said Marty Garabedian of the state Fish and Game Department
The river at the popular swimming and picnic area was swollen from recent rain and flowing at levels seen usually in the spring when snow melts.

"Even when it's not this strong, you still have to be careful," said Jill Elashkar, who was visiting the Lower Falls on Monday. "But this, I wouldn't go near it."

The water was too treacherous for rescue teams to dive into. Nearly 30 searchers walked the riverbanks, looking for any sign of Hildebrandt and helping a search team in the sky.

"They may see something we don't, and we may see something they don't," said Tracy Blanchard of the North Conway Fire Department.

Visibility in the water improved overnight, but the river was moving so fast that officials said Hildebrandt could have ended up as much as five miles away from where he fell in. Friends said Hildebrandt was not a strong swimmer.

Hildebrandt was a volleyball coach at Newbury College in Boston and was about to start a job as head coach at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass.

A helicopter remained in the area well into the afternoon, but the recovery mission was not expected to last later than dusk Monday.

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