WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - West Springfield Police have identified the man who drowned in the Westfield River in West Springfield Tuesday afternoon as 24-year-old Wilfredo Dones-Guzman of Holyoke. Dones-Guzman's address was listed as East Dwight Street in Holyoke.
West Springfield Police Detective Captain Daniel Spaulding told 22News, "we are still investigating the circumstances and talking to witnesses, but it appears to be an accidental drowning."
Captain Spaulding said that several people were swimming in the river behind the Diamond Gold Connection at around 2:00 PM Tuesday, when one of them appeared to struggle in the strong current near the concrete abutments. Several passersby went to the victim's aid, and three other people found themselves in trouble in the rough water as well, according to Captain Spaulding.
Rescuers used ropes to get at least one of the other three people out of the swift currents, according to West Springfield Fire Chief William Flaherty.
Captain Spaulding told 22News that the other three people, all younger men, who were brought to the hospital for exhaustion-related problems, were expected to be okay.
The terrain in the area, located near where River Street, Park Street, and South Boulevard meet, is difficult. The drop down to the river is rather steep, and railroad tracks separate the area from the nearby road.
Flaherty noted that the area is a popular, but dangerous and illegal, place for swimming. Captain Spaulding said police intend to take steps to ensure people don't swim in this unsupervised and unsafe area.
Captain Spaulding said people were fooled by the calm waters of the Westfield River closer to shore, but that the current suddenly becomes too strong, and swimmers can't get back to shore. "It's very dangerous," Spaulding said.