State police: Second drowning victim recovered in Wilmington

WILMINGTON — State police announced Sunday evening they have recovered the body of the second swimmer who disappeared Thursday afternoon at a popular swimming hole in Wilmington.

State police divers, forest rangers, DEC police and search and rescue personnel recovered the body of Michael Lawson at 3:10 p.m. on Sunday.

Lawson, 17, was recovered in the west branch of the AuSable River in the town of Wilmington, said state police in a statement.

His body was located a short distance from where he was last seen on Thursday while swimming with friends.

Lawson was a junior at Plattsburgh Central.

Taoufik Maknani, 17, also of Plattsburgh, also drowned.

His body was recovered on Thursday. An autopsy completed on Friday showed Maknani died of asphyxiation by drowning, police said.

Essex County Coroner Francis Whitelaw responded to the scene and authorized removal of the body to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake for an autopsy to be conducted tomorrow.

The two teens had joined four or so friends at the local swimming hole on Thursday when they disappeared beneath the water.

Saturday's commencement ceremony at Plattsburgh Central was a solemn affair, one that opened with a moment of silence. A seat was left empty for Maknani, who was supposed to graduate, and adorned with a bouquet of orange and black flowers.

Students wore arm bands with Maknani's initials; some attendees carried signs and others decorated their mortarboards with the athlete's initials.

We'll have more on this breaking story as details continue to emerge.

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