As rescue divers continued to search in vain, Jeffrey Pangburn fought to keep himself from admitting his son, Michael, 14, probably had drowned in the Susquehanna River vTC near Havre de Grace this week while swimming with friends.
"It's just a sad thing," said Mr. Pangburn, a man with a ruddy complexion, blond hair and a mustache. "I guess God wanted him for something."
After three days of diving and combing the muddy river bottom, with no success, the rescue crews began dragging the river yesterday afternoon. By last night, the effort to find Michael Pangburn still was unsuccessful. State Department of Natural Resources police plan to continue the search.
Michael, an eighth-grader at Havre de Grace Middle School, went under about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday as he swam toward a pylon of the Hatem Memorial Bridge, which carries U.S. 40 over the Susquehanna.
A friend, who swam first to the pylon, told authorities he saw the Michael struggling, and attempted to help him. After Michael vanished, the friend summoned authorities.
Sgt. Danny Hughes of the DNR police said about 30 divers from four counties in two states looked for Michael on Wednesday night, Thursday and all day yesterday. Their efforts have been slowed because the river bottom is littered with old tires, car parts, concrete, oil drums and other debris.
On Thursday, about 40 of Michael's classmates at Havre de Grace Middle School didn't go to school out of apparent sympathy for him and his family, said Assistant Principal Rhonda K. Jones. Many watched the search from shore. A crisis team counseled more than 200 students at the school that day, she said.
Mrs. Jones said Michael was a good student who was athletic and popular. "You name it, he could do it," she said.
Mr. Pangburn said his son was a good swimmer who often swam near the bridge in the summer.
"He was an average, all-American kid," Mr. Pangburn said. "He liked sports. He liked working with his hands."