Crews resume search for Brandon Boyle in Pennypack Creek

13-year-old Brandon Boyle, who jumped into the Pennypack Creek along with his 11-year-old brother, Anthony, and two friends on July 1, 2013. Anthony was rescued by authorities. Both friends made it out safely.
July 3, 2013 3:29:27 PM PDT
Crews resumed their search for a 13-year-old boy who went missing while swimming with friends in the Pennypack Creek and while he hasn't been found, the concern this could happen again continues to grow.

"We've all been there and done it, disobeyed our parents at one time or another, unfortunately, sometimes things like this happen," Brandon Boyle's cousin Christina Pale said.

Generations have grown up swimming in Pennypack Creek on hot summer days. They've all been breaking the law. Swimming is prohibited there. Signs are posted, but they don't last.

"As quickly as they go up, they come down," Pale said.

Even where the signs remain up, they're routinely ignored.

"When I grew up down here, we swam in the same creek that this young boy was swimming in; it's a rite of passage. He wasn't doing anything that a normal kid wouldn't be doing," Bob Brookes of Northeast Philadelphia said.

13-year-old Brandon Boyle jumped off a bridge and was swept over a dam when the creek was running high Monday afternoon.

"[His parents] are strong in their faith, so in their hearts they still believe that he's still here, that he's somewhere here, that he's not gone yet," said Judy Williams, Brandon's aunt. Brandon's 11-year-old brother Anthony made it safely back to shore.

Anthony was among those who joined the search for Brandon Wednesday.

At that time they jumped in, the waters of Pennypack Creek were running high after a series of heavy rain storms.

Anthony has told police he saw Brandon waving his arms before he disappeared.

Police divers were back in the water again, walking slowly downstream.

It is a grim search that has been seen many times before on this creek.

17 years ago, two teenagers jumped from the same bridge.

Nick Simonetti and Chris Busse both drowned in the whirlpools under the dam.

Three years ago, a 20-year-old man also drowned here.

Brandon's family and others are wondering where the park rangers are.

"They should definitely always be having somebody on patrol; it would definitely make it easier to keep an eye out for people where they're not supposed to be, but I guess that we've all done it," Pale said.

On Tuesday, Brandon's friends returned to the spot where he was last seen.

"When I heard this, I was so upset. So I came here yesterday with his family and it was so emotional," said classmate Nick Noble.

Brandon had just graduated from Farrell Elementary School. The oldest of six children, was going to be a freshman at Northeast High in the fall.

His classmates are stunned that the fun loving kid they knew has vanished.

"He loved to have fun and he was usually a nice person. He never tried to start trouble with anybody," said classmate Nick DeSimone.

Friends say Brandon loved to swim in this creek. Nearby residents say the kids don't understand just how dangerous the water is near the dam.

"It's deep under there. There's like a pocket, if you want to use that term," explained Alan Fisgaer of Northeast Philadelphia. He says kids "don't realize that. They think when the waterfall goes over it's even with the creek, and it's not."

Philadelphia Police say they will continue their search southeast down the creek toward the Delaware River for as long as it takes.

They have told the family they will be out searching every day until they find Brandon.


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