PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A Gateway Clipper employee drowned early Sunday morning after jumping into the Monongahela River.
Sean Gittins worked for the Gateway Clipper fleet and was partying with other employees, when he decided to go for a swim around 4 a.m. Sunday.
Employees were in a somber mood at the Gateway Clipper fleet headquarters at Station Square.
They’re mourning the death of 23-year-old Gittins.
“A 20-something year old male decided to go for a swim, jumped in the Mon River and did not resurface,” said Police Spokeswoman Sonya Toler. “So River Rescue was called to the scene. They found his body unfortunately. He was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital.”
Homicide Detectives later determined that Gittins was with a group of people, some of them left and went to a bar. Police aren’t saying if Gittins was with the group. But when they came back, he decided to go for a swim – and he had problems as soon as he jumped in the water.
His friends tried to throw him a rope, but he couldn’t pull himself up. Before they could make another rescue attempt, Gittins went under.
However, Gittin’s mother says she finds that hard to believe.
“Supposedly, from what I heard, he jumped off the boat and jumped in the water,” said Gittin’s mother, Suzanne Benedict. “My son would have never done that.”
“My son didn’t know how to swim,” she added. “My son had a fear of water.”
Gittins worked for the Gateway Clipper fleet for five years.
Terry Wirginis, president and owner, released a statement reading:
“Sean was a long-term, valued staff member. This is a tragedy we can’t explain. Our hearts are with his family and his Gateway Clipper family.”
Wirginis added that the river may look benign, but it is very dangerous and his company does not authorize or allow people to go in the water.
Pittsburgh city homicide detectives are investigating the drowning.