Update: Hero Uncle Who Drowned in Hudson River Identified

Christopher Baisley of Garrison was found floating in the Hudson River on Friday evening just as Peekskill Celebration got started.

Updated: Aug. 4, 2012, 1:40 p.m. 

Westchester County Police identified the Putnam man who drowned in the Hudson River after saving his niece Friday evening as Christopher Baisley, 52, of Upland Drive in Garrison.

The boat Baisley had been driving was a 26-foot cabin cruiser and it appears the kids were "tubing," or floating on a raft attached to a moving boat, said WCP Information Officer Kieran O'Leary. All three children had personal flotation devices, as is legally required.

Baisley's 7-year-old niece apparently became separated from the raft and the uncle jumped in the water to retreive her. The girl's twin brother and 11-year-old sister pulled her back onto the boat, but Baisley and the boat appear to have drifted apart. 

Captain Mary Pat Driscoll of the Evening Star came across Baisley's body at approximately 5:40 p.m. near Charles Point, said O'Leary.

"We are not sure what caused him to have the distress he had," said O'Leary. "There was nothing on the boat that would indicate alcohol was a factor. This seems like an uncle who took the neices and nephews out for a day of fun." 

Baisley's friends described him as a good swimmer to detectives.


A 52-year-old Putnam County man reportedly drowned after helping his niece in the Hudson River near Charles Point in Peekskill, according to the Journal News' _Will David._

The man, still unidentified by police, helped his niece who was struggling on a raft attached to their boat when he became distressed himself, according to TJN.

The 7-year-old niece’s twin brother and sister, 11, pulled her back to the boat while the vessel drifted away from their uncle in the water. The children put out a distress call, which the Coast Guard picked up and sent to local police, David reports.

Around 5:40 p.m. Captain Mary Pat Driscoll of the Evening Star came across the deceased body of the man, as Westchester County police arrived on the scene by boat, she said.

By about 7:40 p.m. two men, whom David reports were the children’s father and grandfather, arrived and left with the three, who were visibly upset.

The distressing incident occurred just as Peekskill Celebration began Friday night. The Celebration will continued as planned Saturday. 

Here is a statement from Bill Powers, Peekskill Celebration spokesman: 

While we have limited details tonight, we are deeply saddened by the news surrounding the apparent drowning of an individual in the Hudson River who heroically tried to save the life of a child. Plans for our Cancer Awareness dragon boat races, designed to honor the memories of those who have passed, those who are fighting the disease now, and those who have overcome cancer, will go on as scheduled. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family impacted by this tragedy.

Read the full Journal news report here


 Original posting, 8 p.m. Aug. 3:

While leading a tour of about 20 people on the Evening Star Friday, Captain Mary Pat Driscoll spotted a body in the water. As she got closer, she realized it was the dead body of an unidentified male floating in the Hudson River not far from the coastline, she said. Driscoll made the discovery around 6 p.m. while Peekskill Celebration was just getting started.

While Driscoll pulled up to bring in the body a Westchester County police boat arrived and took over, she said. 

Westchester County police, Peekskill Office of Emergency Management and the Putnam County Sheriff’s office were on the scene, but no law official would comment on the incident. They did not identify the victim or reveal details on how this happened. 

Around 7 p.m. two men arrived at the riverfront to retrieve three children, visibly upset, from a private boat that was at the scene at Peekskill’s boat launch. Police then searched the boat. 

Police set up a perimeter at the scene and are continuing their investigation.

“It’s strange. This is not really the place where something like that happens,” said Arianna Memoli, a 17-year-old Peekskill resident who was at the Riverfront when Peekskill EMS and county police initially arrived.

Check back for updates as they become available. 

Yulia Gillen August 04, 2012 at 12:12 PM
Although it got my attention, I found the Patch email alert for this article to be excessive. "Dead body found..." is not the same as "Man drowns saving another person...".
James M August 04, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Yes, I agree. "Man drowns saving his niece" would have been much better. I know this man and he was a beloved,very long time friend... This doesn't surprise me knowing him very well that he put his life on the line for his niece. He would have did it for anyone...
leesther brown August 04, 2012 at 01:48 PM
May He Rest In Peace..
Liz Giegerich August 04, 2012 at 02:09 PM
James M, I am very sorry to hear of your loss. When the original story was posted the police had not yet provided information regarding the man saving his niece or how the drowning happened. We posted all the information we had, which was what is included in the original story, and then updated as more information became available.
Beach Girl August 04, 2012 at 04:11 PM
VERY sad , a family just going out to enjoy the day a beautiful day on the Hudson. We should never take family or Friends for granted . May this kind gentle soul rest in peace .
Ray Adamick August 04, 2012 at 04:45 PM
May his soul rest in peace!
Ray Adamick August 04, 2012 at 04:54 PM
To Liz: Could have also said BODY discovered in river near Peekskill, details to come later!
Sean P Bowdren August 04, 2012 at 07:20 PM
A Family LOVING BIG HEARTED HARD WORKING ALWAYS A SMILE ON HIS FACE FUN LOVING GUY DIED A HERO TRYING TO SAVE HIS NEICE. God Rest Your Soul Christopher Baisley. Please Pray for Chris's familys' comfort following this Tremendous Loss.
Jay August 04, 2012 at 09:09 PM
God bless you Chris. You were one of those guys I looked up to whe I was a teenager. You were kind and made me and my friends laugh. I herd of your passing from friends back home. I can remember being a kid growing up on the Hudson, crabbing in Verplank and watching the boats go by. I will think of you when I come home now and have the opportunity to bring my kids down to the river front. Rest in peace brother and thank you for being a power of example! Jarret C.
Walter Panas August 05, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Sean, You sum it up Chris Baisley was a hard working, caring, fun guy who would always go out of his way to help. He overcame many many obsatcles in life . Chris is a fighte. We who know him well, Knows God has taken him into his home.
Adam J. Dutka August 05, 2012 at 04:04 AM
R.I.P. Christopher. as your friends described and as I knew you.....you were a caring good brother, uncle and son. I will always remember the good times and conversations shared with you during your visits to North Carolina.
Sunders August 05, 2012 at 09:31 AM
Condolences to family and those of us who knew you. You are missed. You were a power of example.
friend of bill August 05, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Christopher definatly lived life one day at a time, making the most of every day. He was a very talented hard working man. We had fun in every season, winter, spring, summer, and fall. He was my good friend and i will miss him. See u on the other side chris.
Jill Gertz August 05, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Sorry to read about the loss. I think 7 yrs old is too young to be getting dragged by a boat on the Hudson river. I would think 12 yrs old at a minimum. Its not a pond out there - especially on a busy day (like Fri & Sat ) when lots of other boats create serious wakes. People need to take the water more seriously.
robert pidgeon August 05, 2012 at 10:30 PM
not the time or the place. if you read the story the kids had on pfd's as required by law.
ennyl ekrub August 05, 2012 at 10:48 PM
God Bless Mr Bailey as well as the brother and sister who were able to assist their sibling back into the boat and alert authorities to the loss of their uncle. I hope they realize over time there was not more they could have done for him, I pray.
regina Male August 05, 2012 at 11:26 PM
this is so hard to believe we will always have you in our hearts. I will miss our sunday chats at the cafe. R.I.P chris. u will be missed by many. Until we meet again and I serve you your coffee and breakfast wrap.
Beach Girl August 05, 2012 at 11:48 PM
Does it matter what day of the week it was . I dont know Chris , but he seemed to be a Person that was very involved with his family. He was doin what every good uncle or person does just having fun with his nieces and nephew . Rip to this Gentle Soul
ellen August 06, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Ellen p Chris you always had a smile on your face and the truth to tell.I will miss your honesty,your sense of humor and your friendship. You died in the river you loved while saving a life. God bless younfamilybas they begin to heal from this tragedy.You will be missed!
David Titor August 06, 2012 at 02:38 PM
A family member friend a brother. Working sking fishing and just having a good time you have left an eternal mark on myself and my family. We are all totally crushed with your passing. Rest in peace brother and thanks for all the time we were able to spend together. Dave Josephine David Angelica Titor
Chris Robinson August 08, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Chris Robinson Going to the marina ,Driving to vermont ,riding on my motorcycle will never be the same without you . You have become a part of my family my children will miss u dearly. You died a HERO and now You are a ANGEL look over us and help guide us . A true inspiration. I love You Pal keep up the good work , your job here is not done . And don't worry we will make sure Cathy and Anabelle are ok. Thanks for teaching me how to live again. See ya when I see ya pall


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