Search for Jameer Nelson’s father is suspended

Posted: August 31, 2007

Strong currents in the Delaware River near Chester forced the search for Floyd "Pete" Nelson, father of Orlando Magic basketball star Jameer Nelson, to be suspended this afternoon. Nelson was reported missing near the river last night.

"One of our divers was pulled [downriver] about 15 feet when we dropped him in," Chester fire commissioner James J. Johnson explained shortly after 2 p.m. "That wasn't too good."

The underwater search for Nelson, 57, was halted early in the afternoon. The plans were to resume the operation when the ebb tide slackened at around 3:30. Instead it was cut off at about 4 p.m.

A team of about 42 divers, police, firefighters and others has focused on the water and shoreline around the Hays Tug & Launch wharf, where Nelson, of Chester, was last seen yesterday afternoon.

According to Johnson, the captain of a tug tied up at the wharf reported seeing Nelson, who works for Hays and had just finished painting the underside of a barge in a dry dock area.

The captain said Nelson was walking toward a docked tug where employees sometimes ate lunch and took breaks. Rescuers believe he may have slipped into a three-foot gap between the tug and the dock.

Johnson said earlier today that he had not set a deadline for calling off the search.

"I don't care if it's dark and snowing six feet," he said. "We'll keep at it until I'm satisfied there's nothing more we can do."

Jameer Nelson reportedly has visited the scene and has talked with searchers.

In 2004, Floyd Nelson, a Vietnam War vet, wrote Jameer, a book about his son, who was also a basketball standout at Chester High School and St. Joseph's University. Jameer Nelson was drafted that year by the NBA's Orlando Magic, for whom he is a point guard.

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