Police divers today recovered the body of a 4-year-old Kent County boy from the Chester River. He had fallen overboard from his family's boat moments before a Fourth of July fireworks display was scheduled to begin last night.
Divers and recovery teams from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police and other rescue workers found the body of the child about 150 feet downstream from where he went into the water, said a DNR police spokeswoman.
The discovery was made about five hours after the search resumed this morning.
Officials withheld the name of the victim because some family members had not been notified.
Shortly after it was discovered that the boy was missing from his family's boat anchored in the Chester River, officials canceled Chestertown's annual fireworks display. It was rescheduled for tonight.
Instead of multicolored starbursts and other holiday aerial displays, the air over the river was filled with helicopters criss-crossing the area with powerful spotlights, said Cpl. Ralph Parker, the DNR police spokesman.
A large crowd had gathered for the fireworks at Wilmer Park and along the river, Parker said.
He said the boy, who was standing on a boat that was anchored about a quarter-mile south of the bridge on the Queen Anne's County side of the river, was not wearing a life vest. He toppled into the water around 9 p.m., just moments before the fireworks display was to begin.
The child, a resident of Worton whose name has not been released, fell into about 12 feet of water, Parker said.
He said that within minutes, divers from the DNR police and the Queen Anne's County rescue squad were on the scene and searching for the boy.
Two helicopters, one from the State Police and another from DNR, were pressed into service to provide lighting for the divers, Parker said.
Parker said the search continued last night until 2 a.m., then resumed at first light.
A spokeswoman for the office of Chestertown Mayor Elmer Horsey said the fireworks display was postponed until 9 o'clock tonight.
"In light of what occurred and with the search helicopters flying above the river in the area were the fireworks would have been fired," the spokeswoman said, "it would not have been appropriate to go on with the show."