The search for a missing 6-year-old boy off Deer Island in the Merrimack River has shifted into recovery mode.

The boy's mother went after her son and 7-year-daughter during a fishing trip with her family Thursday night, and wound up in the water. She was able to lift her daughter onto a fishing boat that offered assistance, but could not get herself on board. She later died at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport.

The search for the boy resumed Friday morning with ten divers, side scanning sonars, and the Massachusetts State Police aviation unit, before transitioning to recovery mode.

Newburyport Fire Chief Christopher LeClaire said Friday morning the search was focused on the water and shoreline where it's believed the boy fell into the water. The major challenge for divers is the swift current of the river.

A Trip to the Car Turns Tragic

State Police told WCVB that the boy reached for something in the water when he went with his dad to their car to get some gear. The father jumped into the water when he saw his wife and daughter, but ran into problems.

The mother and daughter were carried by the swift current under the Whittier Bridge and to the west, police told WCVB.

The family's name has not been disclosed by police.

Agencies involved in the search include the Massachusetts Environmental Police, United States Coast Guard, Massachusetts Department of Fire Servies, Cataldo Ambulance, Seacoast Chief Fire Officers Mutual Aid District, Newbury Harbormaster and Amesbury Police. The Amesbury, Merrimac, Salisbury, Haverhill, and East Kingston fire departments are also providing mutual aid.

The U.S. Coast Guard said late Friday afternoon, its search was suspended after covering 228 square miles for 69 hours.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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