Watertown Woman Mourns Death Of Son, Friend


Hours after police identified the 5 year old boy who drowned in the Black River, his mother is talking about her son and the man who went missing apparently trying to rescue the child.

7 News reporter Rachel Spotts spoke with Susan Finley.

Finley's five year old son, Zachary, died Saturday after falling into the Black River.

"He loved to go fishing every day. If he could, he would. He loved to be outside, ride his bike. He was a very energetic and active boy," said Susan.

Susan said she, Zachary and three other friends went fishing Saturday on the banks of the Black River in Watertown.

Police said the group was fishing across from Maggie's On The River restaurant when Finley fell in.

Susan immediately called 911.

"I figured I had lost my son once it happened, but I stayed on the phone and tried to stay calm with 911 the whole time," she said.

Although Susan didn't see what happened, she believes a member of their fishing group jumped in to rescue Zachary.

Police identified that person as 47 year old Edward Lee Whitfield III of 111 East Lynde Street.

Susan said Whitfield, who went by the nickname, "Peanut," was a new friend who joined them for their fishing outing.

He was still missing Monday afternoon.

Zachary's body was found about two miles downriver at the at the Glen Park hydroelectric dam.

He was pronounced dead at around 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

"He was a very smart five year old boy that I loved dearly.  I miss him right now. It's hard to go through this every day without him," said Susan.

While Susan grieves for her son, police say they will continue to search the shore periodically for Whitfield.

Officials said he was wearing red pants and a red and white striped shirt when he went missing.

On Sunday, Jefferson County's STAR dive team searched the waters by the Glen Park dam, while Watertown city police and fire personnel searched the shoreline, to no avail.

"There's a lot of undercuts," said Mark Knowles, who commands the dive team. "Anything can get wedged and just never appear again."

"This is high water," he said. "We only go in if there's a justification to do it."

Private citizens also turned up to help search Sunday. One of them was a woman named July Towsley.

"We were out here searching today, me some of my family, friends, to see what we can do."   

See our earlier report

Saturday, December 10, 2016
, Watertown, NY

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