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Gateway Clipper employee jumps into Monongahela River, dies

An employee of the Gateway Clipper Fleet died early Sunday when he inexplicably jumped into the Monongahela River for a swim.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man as Sean Gittins, 23. Pittsburgh police spokeswoman Sonya Toler said he was with a group of people who went to a bar and returned to a boat at Station Square. He decided he wanted to go for a swim and jumped in. Gittins soon had problems in the water.

“They were going to pull him in with a rope, but he was unable to do that,” Toler said. The incident was reported at 4:13 a.m., and Pittsburgh River Rescue recovered the victim and took him to UPMC Mercy, Uptown, where doctors pronounced him dead at 5:52 a.m.

Terry Wirginis, president and owner of the Gateway Clipper Fleet, said Gittins lived near Polish Hill and had worked for his company for five or six years. He tended bar, waited tables and trained staff.

Wirginis stressed that swimming is against company rules.

“The river looks very benign, but it’s dangerous, especially with the current. He was a responsible young man. It’s hard to believe that anything like this could happen to him. I’ve never had an employee jump into the water like that.”

The medical examiner’s office performed an autopsy but had not determined a cause of death.

The Gateway Clipper has 50 full-time employees and 200 part-time workers, including Gittins.

“It’s a long, healing process for us,” Wirginis said. “He was a good kid and a valued member of our team.”

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.


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