Missing swimmer found, pulled from Schuylkill River in Reading

Young man later died at Reading Hospital, officials say

Man drowns in river

READING, Pa. - A young man who went missing while swimming in the Schuylkill River in Reading has died, city fire officials said.

The victim was Victor Pantoja, 26, from Reading, according to the Berks County coroner.

The crews got the call shortly after 5 p.m. Friday for a swimmer who went under the water in the river near Blair Avenue and Montgomery Street in northwest Reading and didn't resurface.

Initial reports from the scene were that the swimmer was under the water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before he was located by first responders.

A handful of firefighters then climbed down a steep embankment and into the water to pull him out, officials said.

Emergency crews performed CPR on the unresponsive victim, who was rushed to the trauma center at Reading Hospital. He was pronounced dead a short time later, officials said.

Pantoja was down by the river trying to cool off from the heat, says his friend, Luis Reyes, who called 911.

"I kept telling him don't go in the water," Reyes said. "I said, people drown in that water, man, why you going to go in there?"

The victim picked mushrooms for a living, and loved ones described him as a hardworking.

"He works eight, nine, ten hours a day cutting mushrooms. He's a good guy, man," Reyes said.

Officials say an autopsy will be conducted on the victim Saturday afternoon.


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