June 27, 2014

PHS student found dead in Ausable River

One teen still missing at Flume in Wilmington; search continues today

WILMINGTON — Taoufik Maknani’s death in the Ausable River on Thursday afternoon sent shockwaves through the Plattsburgh High School community and beyond.

Compounding the grief, another teen still remained missing.

Police did not release that name or describe any details of what happened when the two were swimming with four or so others at The Flume, a popular spot for cliff jumping and diving about 2 miles upstream from the Wilmington Town Beach.

Maknani, 17, would have graduated on Saturday.

Multiple 911 calls at around 2:10 p.m. set off a search involving some 100 people from fire and rescue departments and agencies in both Essex and Clinton counties.

Efforts were staged from the beach, located off Route 86 on Bowman Lane, where the parking lot was filled with emergency vehicles. Inflatable boats from rescue units moved through the water, and a State Police Aviation Unit helicopter searched from the sky.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish said the water was higher than usual because of recent heavy rainfall, and the current was strong.

“It’s dangerous.”

Among those involved with the effort were the State Department of Environmental Conservation; State Police, including the State Police Aviation Unit; fire and rescue crews from Wilmington, Lake Placid, Upper Jay, Keeseville and Saranac; Essex County Emergency Services and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.


Plattsburgh City School District issued a statement about the tragedy, saying notification had come from State Police “that one of our students perished today,” Associate Superintendent Jay Lebrun said.

“We are also aware that other students may have been involved, and we await updates about such from authorities.

“The magnitude and timing of this tragedy are difficult to process. The full weight of our thoughts, prayers and love are with the affected families."

The Plattsburgh High School Crisis team set up Thursday evening through midnight in the PHS library, “ready,” Lebrun said, “to provide counsel and support to students, staff, family and community members ... through midnight."

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