KENNEDY – A man visiting friends at a rural Chautauqua County town is presumed deceased following a tragic canoeing accident along a popular waterway.
On Sunday afternoon, a group of four friends took to the Conewango Creek near Kennedy in two canoes.
“After a day of hanging out together at the family farm, they decided to come down and do a little recreational kayaking and canoeing,” said Lt. Kelly.
However, as Lt. Tom Kelly with the New York State Police tells us, in a single moment, things turned fatal.
“The one canoe got hung up on a tree that was across the creek, in their efforts to try to traverse the tree, and the creek, the canoe overturned,” explained Lt. Kelly.
Friends of the man quickly called 911, summoning first responders to the around 6 p.m. Sunday. The night’s search was unsuccessful, with crews returning to the scene Monday.
“Unfortunately, and realistically, it’s most likely a recovery,” said Noel Guttman, Chautauqua County Director of Emergency Services. “With cold water, in the water rescue world, we are always optimistic that there are cases where people can be submerged up to 45-mins in cold water and still have a viable recovery, unfortunately I think that window has far been surpassed for us.”
Guttman says in addition to several local fire departments, the county’s technical rescue team, State Police and Sheriff Dive Teams are searching the waterway. Police also deployed a drone.
“It’s a tragic situation from the start, and the more it goes on it just become more anguishing, we just want to be able to for the first responders, and predominantly for the family, being able to close this and say that we were at least able to help somehow, is beneficial for everybody involved,” said Gutman.
Officials at the scene say one lifesaving measure should be in place for anyone, who plans to hit the water this summer.
“It looks flat, it looks pretty peaceful, but this is the definition of swift water,” continued Gutman. “That water is moving very rapidly, although it doesn’t exactly look like it, and it is a very dangerous body of water, and with any body of water the number one safety thing anybody can do is wear a PFD, personal flotation device.”