Body of missing Takoma Park man found in Potomac River -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. June 26, 2013. This story was corrected on July 1, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

The body of the 19-year-old Takoma Park man who went missing in the waters of the Potomac River on Monday has been found, Montgomery County police say.

“Today, following an extended joint operation, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue recovered the victim’s body in the water at approximately 9:15 a.m. Montgomery County Police search and rescue officers were on scene during these recovery efforts. The victim was pronounced deceased at the scene,” police said, in a statement.

Fire officials have not yet announced that they recovered the body.

On Monday, Ngo Forchick of Takoma Park went missing in the Potomac while swimming with friends near Purple Horse Beach along the Billy Goat Trail in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Bethesda.

Several teens were swimming in the Potomac River and one, Ngo, was not able to get back to shore, Graham said. The man’s friends tried to rescue him several times but couldn’t, he said.

Fire and rescue crews searched the river Monday in boats and with the help of helicopters. They had to call off the search around 5 p.m. while storms rolled through the area. The search continued Tuesday morning in what Graham called a “recovery mode” but was called off around 10 a.m., according to Graham.

That day, family members and friends gathered while rescue personnel searched for his body. The group of almost 50 people sang and prayed and waited for another few hours before leaving for home.

Forchick came to the United States from Cameroon in 2006 when he was 12 years old, according to his sister, Marceline Fon, 21. He was the second of four children of Dorothy Fongum and Peter Forchick. He attended Takoma Park Middle School and graduated from Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring in 2012. For the past year he has attended Prince George’s Community College, studying criminal justice, his mother said.

“He told me that he wanted to go into the Army but I said no, I did not want him away from me,” Fongum said. “So he decided to study criminal justice. He was very obedient and hard working.”

Patricia Mukum, a friend of the family, said the people at the river were members of the local Cameroon community.

“Our tradition tells us to go to the spot where he was lost,” she said. “We rely on the experts for the rescue, we are not used to water, we do not swim.”

Mukum said Ngo did not know how to swim and the family does not know why he left the house and came so far. She said they are hoping to talk to the friends he was with so they can tell what happened but they do not know the kids he was with.

“We are just saying what the friends reported to the police,” she said.

Fon said it was very unusual for her brother to leave the house without saying where he was going.

“Even sometimes when it didn’t matter, he would tell you,” she said.

Accidents in that section of the river have happened before; on June 24, 2009, Fire and Rescue officials found the body of a young man who had gone swimming in the river there when camping with family.

sjbsmith@gazette.net

An earlier version of this story had Ngo Forchick’s first and last names reversed.