2 Bodies Found in NYC Rivers Are Identified as Missing Boys

The bodies of two boys, who family members said were together shortly before they disappeared over a week ago, have been recovered from separate locations in the waters off Manhattan, the police said Saturday.

One of the boys, Alfa Barrie, 11, who lived in the Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx, was last seen on May 12, the police said. Alfa was reported to the police as missing on May 14, and his body was recovered on Saturday morning from the Hudson River at West 102nd Street.

The other, Garrett Warren, 13, was last seen at around 1:30 a.m. on May 13 in front of his home in Harlem, according to the police. Garrett was reported missing on Monday, and his body was recovered from the Harlem River, on the east side of Manhattan, on Thursday morning.

The police said their investigation into what led to the deaths was continuing. On Saturday, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office said Garrett’s cause of death was accidental drowning.

An examination will also be conducted to determine Alfa’s cause of death, she said.

It is unclear how or when the boys entered the water. However, it is possible for two people who enter a body of water at the same location to end up in completely different places, said Capt. Richard Werner, the owner of Safe Boating America, a boating safety training provider.

Many factors can play into how far currents can carry a person, Mr. Werner said. The strength of the current at the time, the person’s swimming ability and whether the person was able to hold onto a branch or debris for a length of time will affect how far and in what direction someone is carried.

“The currents in any river can be hazardous,” he said. “But the Hudson and the Harlem rivers are unique because both are large bodies of water with high commercial traffic and fast currents.”

Since the boys were reported missing, search efforts had been underway, led by their families and community members.

In an interview this week with Africa in Harlem, a multilingual community news site, Alfa’s mother and sister said they last spoke to him before he left to go to school at Democracy Prep Harlem Middle School on the morning of May 12.

Fatima Diallo, Alfa’s sister, said she didn’t know Garrett before Alfa’s disappearance and hadn’t realized that he was also missing until she saw a flyer posted by his mother.

Friends who were with the boys on May 12 told Alfa’s family that they had last seen them at 145th Street in Harlem and had then separated from them.

The police obtained footage from security cameras at Anas Fish Market at 145th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard, which showed the two boys there at around 3:30 p.m. after school on May 12, she said.

The family was alerted that Alfa was missing when another sister, who lives in the Bronx, called on Saturday morning to say that he had missed his Friday evening ritual of spending the night at her home, Ms. Diallo said. Alfa would often leave school after early dismissal on Friday and travel to the Bronx with his younger sister, who attends the same school, she said.

The police said they responded at around 10:15 a.m. on Thursday to reports of a body found in the water near the Madison Avenue Bridge. Garrett’s mother was told of his death that evening at the 32nd Precinct and later identified him, said Iesha Sekou, the chief executive and founder of Street Corner Resources, an anti-violence organization with headquarters in Harlem.

“It was just heart-piercing,” said Ms. Sekou, who had been working with the boys’ families and the police as they searched.

“I’m a mother,” she said. “And so there’s no way that you could be a mother and not feel that, in particular.”

A team of outreach workers with her group first heard that two people, initially reported to be adults, had fallen into the river on May 12, she said. By the next morning, children in the community were saying it was actually two children, she said.

For Ms. Sekou, the deaths of the two boys highlighted the dangers of the areas around the city’s rivers. She said her organization had spoken to city leaders about the issue and about the need for more safe spaces for children to spend their time.

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