Drowning victim identified as Watervliet High student

The victim of a tragic drowning in Watervliet on Monday has been identified as 16-year-old Matthew Billetts, an 11th grader at Watervliet High School.

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Police say the teen suffered some sort of medical emergency while fishing with a friend, falling into the river.

A Watervliet police officer – along with two city firefighters – jumped into the water immediately to attempt to locate Matthew, but were unsuccessful.

Members of the New York State Police Underwater Recovery Team found him a short time later. Sadly, lifesaving measures were also unsuccessful.

On the school district’s website, one of Matt’s teachers wrote, "Matt was one of the kindest, most joyful, funny students I’ve ever had. His death is a tremendous loss to the Watervliet Junior Senior High School Community."

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Also, a message from Tim Delisle on the Board of Education read: "Matt was a fixture in our community. You could always see him smiling, and riding his bike. He loved freeze pops at Brotherhood Park and had a great laugh."

Finally, one person summed up a universal sentiment writing: "Our community is hurting."

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A vigil to celebrate the life of Matthew was set for 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, at the high school’s football field.