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John Palcewski's Journal

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Swept To Sea
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Early Thursday morning I watched vessels of the Coast Guard and Carabinieri slowly moving around the waters near split rock, not too far south of Soccorso. Above, a police helicopter made repeated passes over the shoreline and then further out. Half an hour later it was joined by a second helicopter, this one with pontoons. After about an hour and a half, the helicopters departed but the boats remained the entire day.

The day before, when the sea was up, a 20-year-old boy from Casamiccola was caught in a strong undertow. His friend tried to save him, but failed. Both were strong swimmers.

Everyone knows that bodies are never found. But they searched all day nevertheless.

The next morning the pontoon helicopter and the Carabinieri boat returned and resumed the search. After an hour they both departed.

I hiked down the mountain to the high stone terrace overlooking the shore near split rock. A curious crowd had gathered. They leaned over, looked down at the green sea frothing around dark stones. “There,” one girl said to her sister, pointing. “That’s where the boy was swimming. And the sea swept him away.”

Mark Twain’s proof that a miracle had occurred beside a tree, five years ago: “See? There’s the tree.”

A drum sounding in the village around noon announced that the boy's body had been found. Unfortunately it was in pieces, after having been pounded against rocks. The father of the boy--a very wealthy Catholic—had made it clear that no effort should be spared to recover his son's remains for a proper church service and burial.

Sylvia said that just last month another boy drowned and his father, a physician, told the authorities not to undergo a lengthy and expensive search.

"Dead is dead," he told them.


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