Two bodies found in river: Teen's and likely Nelson's

Ryan Lewis vanished Wednesday. Floyd Nelson, an NBA player's father, was last seen Thursday.

Posted: September 02, 2007

The body of teenager Ryan Lewis of West Deptford was found yesterday afternoon along the bank of the Delaware River in West Deptford.

About 30 minutes later, a body that authorities believe is that of Floyd "Pete" Nelson, father of NBA player Jameer Nelson, was found near Wilmington.

Lewis was swept underwater Wednesday evening, trying to rescue friends. His body was found "between Woodbury Creek and the Paulsboro line" shortly before 1:30 p.m., said Dennis Kappler, a spokesman for the National Park Fire Department.

At the time, he said, the search was being conducted by 12 boats from fire rescue operations in Camden, Gloucester and Salem Counties and a boat from the Lewis family.

About 2 p.m., authorities pulled a body from the river near Fox Point Park in Wilmington and said there was a "strong likelihood" it is that of Floyd Nelson.

The father of the former St. Joseph's star and Orlando Magic player worked at a tugboat company and was last seen Thursday in a dry-dock area in Chester.

Divers and trained dogs searched the river all day Friday, but the search was suspended about 4 p.m.

Police in Delaware said a boater had called 911 yesterday to report seeing a body floating in the river.

Police were unable to confirm that the body is Nelson's, Delaware State Police spokesman Sgt. Joshua A. Bushweller said.

"We're going to do official fingerprinting, or a family member may do a positive identification," he said.

Efforts to reach Jameer Nelson through his agent were unsuccessful last night.

Lewis, 17, had gone to the river with friends after a 16-foot boat carrying three other friends became stuck on an island 100 to 150 yards off National Park shortly before 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The two young women and a young man, all under 18, had become stranded by the outgoing tide and alerted Lewis by cell phone.

When shouted instructions by Lewis and others failed to help the three dislodge the boat, Lewis jumped into the river but went out of sight before reaching the island.

A June graduate of West Deptford High School, Lewis was to enter Camden County College with plans to become an interpreter for the deaf. Both of his parents are deaf.

Contact staff writer Walter F. Naedele at 610-701-7614 or

This article includes information from the Associated Press.

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