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New Albany man drowns in Blue River

A 19-year-old New Albany man drowned Friday evening in Blue River east of Leavenworth while swimming with a group of friends.
Matthew Cunningham had just begun swimming at a public access site by an old iron bridge at the Harrison-Crawford/Wyandotte Complex shortly before 7 p.m. when he began struggling, Indiana Conservation Officer Terry Allen said Saturday.
‘Everyone else was on the bank. He was the only one in the river,’ Allen said, noting the group included Cunningham’s two sisters, also of New Albany, two males from Louisville, and one male from Lanesville.
Allen said one of the males jumped from the bridge when he heard Cunningham yell, but by the time he swam to the area, Cunningham had already been swept under the water, which is about 20 feet deep in that section of the river.
There was a little current, but nothing too strong, Allen said.
‘It’s pretty close to normal,’ he said.
The Leavenworth Volunteer Fire Dept. responded first, after being dispatched by Harrison County officials. They were assisted by Crawford County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Bye and Conservation Officers Allen, Jim Hash and James Schrek.
Officials recovered Cunningham’s body around 8:30, Allen said.
Allen said the group, whose ages range from 16 to 20, had previously swum in that section of Blue River.
‘They had been there before,’ he said. ‘This time they had only been there about 10 minutes.’
As with most drownings that occur in the summer, the group did not have any kind of flotation device, Allen said.
‘It seems to be these spots, where there’s no supervision and people aren’t required to have a flotation device,’ he said, noting it takes just a split-second for someone to be swept under water.
Allen said an autopsy Saturday morning showed nothing unusual and confirmed drowning as the cause of death.
A native of Louisville, Ciunningham was born Feb. 13, 1985, the son of Brenda Molnar Stevens of Lanesville and the late Vishnu Satram.
Survivors besides his mother include his stepfather, Edward Stevens of New Albany; two brothers, Steven Bouchard of Jeffersonville and Nathan Burress of Evansville; six sisters, Marilyn, Felisha, Brittany and Chelsea Cunningham, all of New Albany, Natalie Cavanaugh of Evansville and Jessica Hoanes of Corydon, and grandparents Istvan and Marilyn Molnar of Lanesville.
He was a laborer and a Baptist.
The funeral was Monday at Pyke-Calloway Mullineaux Funeral Service in New Albany with burial in Fairview Cemetery. Pastor Mike McHone officiated.
The family suggests memorial gifts to the family in care of the funeral home.