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Officer dies after jumping from boat

An incident on the Massachusetts River claimed the life of Charles Panek

By John Collins
Lowell Sun

TYNGSBORO, Mass. — Only a river as mighty as the Merrimack could have taken the life of such a "fearless and fit" warrior as Lowell police Officer Charles "PJ" Panek, said his parents, brother and friends.

Yet Panek's parents, Sandra and Charles of Pelham, also said yesterday they are mystified how their physically fit, 30-year-old son -- an expert swimmer who had successfully parachuted into the ocean in National Guard paratrooper training only two weeks earlier -- somehow drowned so quickly, and mid-river, where the current reportedly was not strong.

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