In the two weeks after a Navy Seal perished in a tragic parachuting accident, multiple law enforcement agencies have been involved in a search operation near the site of his fall.
Remington Peters, a 27-year-old Navy parachutist who enlisted in 2008, fell to his death during a Fleet Week demonstration at Liberty State Park on May 27, an accident that left crowds of onlookers horrified.
The body of the fallen Navy Seal was recovered by Coast Guard personnel with the help of the Jersey City Fire Department marine unit and Jersey City Police Emergency Service Unit officers.
“We’ve been told this is a cleanup operation after the Fleet Week incident.” – Jennifer Morrill.
Navy Rear Adm. Jack Scorby said after the accident that the parachutist had been a member of the Navy’s elite Leap Frogs parachute team. The team conducted the demonstration just after noon when Peters’ parachute malfunctioned and failed to open properly. He landed in the Hudson River adjacent to Liberty State Park. The area has been searched by multiple police agencies that include the U.S. Coast Guard, the New York City Police, the New Jersey State Police and the Jersey City Police.
City Spokesperson Jennifer Morrill said originally that the operation was related to the accident and that the agencies involved appeared to be cleaning up after the accident.
“We’ve been told this is a cleanup operation after the Fleet Week incident,” Morrill said.
Dog walkers and other pedestrians near the foot of Washington Street near Liberty Harbor said the search activities had been going on for days with police closing down a part of the waterway as a New York City police raft searches the area.
Police boats from New York City, the New Jersey State Police and well as the Coast Guard cordoned off the entrance to Liberty Yacht Harbor. The boats seemed to be searching for something there.
“On Friday, they even stopped ferry service,” one pedestrian said.
Closing down ferry service is highly unusual, said an official who was not familiar with the details of the search.
Few officials have been willing to say exactly why the operation went on for so long or if they might be looking for something else.
Areas closed to traffic
At times over the past two weeks, the fleet of as many as five police boats have blockaded the entrance to Liberty Marina near Liberty State Park’s 9/11 monument and prevented boats from sailing in while police boats from the state police dropped anchor near Liberty House to keep boats from sailing out. This allowed a single rubber motorized boat from the New York Police Department to search the waters.
Even though local police were involved in the operations, officers in the department said there had been no buzz about the operation in headquarters.
“They might be looking for a body that washed overboard in the harbor,” one cop speculated. “With the tides, the body could have wound up there.”
This might explain the large number of New York City police vehicles involved in the operation.
But the search appeared to be focused entirely near where the Navy Seal fell, suggesting that some piece of valuable equipment might have been lost, said another officer.
Although the police boats allowed craft in and out of the harbor briefly on Tuesday, June 6, they quickly shut off the section again and continued the search.
“They’ve been here every day,” said one woman walking her dog nearby.
Police patrol boats with lights flashing warned off incoming vehicles, sometimes escorting them away from the search area.
On scene as well was a U.S. Coast Guard Scuba Team vessel docked at the Liberty Island Tour station near the foot of Marin Avenue, suggesting that an underwater search was also underway on the scene.
Coast Guard boats from the nearby base in Bayonne were also stationed outside the perimeter.
Peters, who previously served in two combat deployments, had made more than 900 Naval parachute jumps and had been awarded numerous medals and awards during his service.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.