MIDDLETOWN, Del. — An 18-year-old man is dead, three boys are unaccounted for and a 16-year-old girl is safe after the car they were riding in plunged into a canal Sunday in Delaware, authorities said.
Delaware State Police are investigating why and how the car entered the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Master Cpl. Michael Austin would not say whether the three boys — ages 6, 12 and 16 — are presumed dead, but the effort to find them was deemed a recovery operation and not a rescue.
The car went into the water around 9:40 a.m. Sunday. The man worked to free the girl, who first responders later found sitting on the banks of the canal after a bystander called 911, the Delaware News Journal reported .
Austin said the man, who was found dead in the canal, also had tried to rescue the three boys. He said it is unclear if the boys were swept away or if they remained in the vehicle.
“He was a hero,” Austin said. “He tried to do everything he could to help the remaining passengers in that vehicle.”
Teams were still working to remove the car from the water on Sunday evening.
Austin said the man and boys were related and the girl was an acquaintance. All were Delaware residents.
The canal is about 35 feet (more than 10 meters) deep, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.