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Police Search East River For Body Of Missing 21-Year-Old Swimmer

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Brooklyn mother was on edge late Thursday afternoon, as crews searched the East River for the body of her missing 21-year-old son.

As 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported, police had been searching for Steven Middleton, who just turned 21 three days ago, since 6 a.m.

By 5 p.m., crews characterized the search as a recovery mission and did not believe Middleton was still alive, CBS 2’s Alice Gainer reported.

The search was ultimately called off for the night late Thursday, and was to resume Friday morning.

Middleton and his five friends were out on a broken pier near the end of North First Street around 5 p.m., when he went into the water and his friends lost sight of him. The current in the area is very strong.

Police Search East River For Missing 21-Year-Old Swimmer

east river rescue crews 0626 Police Search East River For Body Of Missing 21 Year Old Swimmer
Juliet Papa reports

Tonya Middleton remained at the water’s edge late Thursday afternoon, as crews looked for her son’s body.

“He was a good – he’s a good kid,” she said. “I did see him last week on his birthday. We were celebrating my grandson’s graduation.”

Chopper 2 was over the scene Thursday morning as rescue crews searched the water for any sign of Steven Middleton.

Steven Middleton, 21, went missing after jumping into the East River offshore from Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Thursday, June 26. (Credit: Facebook/CBS 2)

Steven Middleton, 21, went missing after jumping into the East River offshore from Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Thursday, June 26. (Credit: Facebook/CBS 2)

“Many fire trucks, NYPD personnel, FDNY personnel lined up on North 3rd,” area resident Casie Attardi said.

Photos taken by Attardi showed the response on the ground. In the center of one photo, one of the friends of the missing man is also seen sitting down shirtless and wearing headphones.

“One guy who appeared to be a friend of the victim, he did not appear to be emotional whatsoever,” Attardi said. “He just appeared to be very straightforward, looking out at the water, seeing what was going on.”

Sources told CBS 2 Middleton and his five friends had been out celebrating their graduation from Medgar Evers College when they decided to jump off the broken pier.

They said after Middleton went in, two of his friends were descending a ladder and the others were on the pier when they lost sight of him and called 911.

People in the neighborhood said the area is known for partying.

“There’s always kids there, you know, drinking and partying and stuff, so no surprise,” said neighbor Ken Tanzer.

“A lot of kids are coming over here and smoking weed,” a woman told 1010 WINS’ Papa. “There’s pizza boxes, people throwing up, there’s 12-packs, there’s everything you could think of, and it’s like, wow.”

“A couple of times a year we hear people are jumping,” added Attardi. “Many times, folks think they can swim, but as you can see, the water and the current is a bit strong.”

Tonya Middleton said she knew her son was out at the East River, and was just hoping Thursday afternoon that he would be found soon.

It was not known late Thursday afternoon whether alcohol was a factor in the incident.

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