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NE Philadelphia’s Woman Personal Story Is Warning About Swimming in Creeks

(Beth Simonetti Gallelli speaks to students at Father Judge High School about the dangers of swimming in unprotected creeks and streams.  Photo by Pat Loeb)

(Beth Simonetti Gallelli speaks to students at Father Judge High School about the dangers of swimming in unprotected creeks and streams. Photo by Pat Loeb)

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By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As the weather warms, the region’s creeks begin to call to risk-loving teenagers. But the temptation to plunge in for a swim can be deadly.

That’s the message a community group near Pennypack Creek is trying to bring home to students, and their spokeswoman draws on her own heartbreaking experience.

Beth Simonetti Gallelli says she was a tough mom, making her 15-year-old son, Nicky, check in wherever he went.

One sunny day in July, 1996, Nick went to Pennypack Creek with a high-spirited friend who fell in while clowning around, and got swept away.  Nicky went in after him and disappeared.

“For the first time in my life in my life, I did not know where my son was,” Gallelli recalls, “and I never saw him again.

Nicky’s body was found the next day, 2½ miles downstream.  To Gallelli, it still hurts.

“Everything is just a little dimmer, even 18 years later,” she says.

But she swallows the pain to speak at school assemblies, set up this spring by the Holme Circle Civic Association, after the deaths of two teens last summer, in two separate incidents.

 

(Photo by Pat Loeb)

(Photo by Pat Loeb)

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Students at Father Judge High School last week got the message.

“(I’m) definitely not swimming in there,” said one young man.  “Very eye-opening.”