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Police: Search will continue for man missing in lake

August 28, 2011

Dive teams from western and central Pennsylvania will continue the search for a 63-year-old man who fell from a boat Saturday afternoon in Hemlock Lake. The man and his son were fishing when the boat capsized. (Photo by Larry McGuire/The Punxsutawney Spirit)

BANKS TOWNSHIP — The family members of a 63-year-old man maintained a silent vigil on the shores of Hemlock Lake Saturday and Sunday as rescue crews and dive teams from area fire departments continued to search for him after he disappeared when the boat from which he was fishing overturned at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

According to Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State police, the man, whose name has not yet been released, and his son were fishing at Hemlock Lake when, for reasons unknown, the boat capsized. The man's son was able to swim the 100 yards to shore.

Police said witnesses last saw the victim in the water near the his boat Saturday. After two days of searching, emergency officials had not yet found him.

Scuba divers searched the lake Saturday afternoon and evening, utilizing a state police helicopter. They continued their search all day Sunday, calling it off at dusk. The search will resume at 7 a.m. today.

"The biggest problem they're having is visibility in the water. They only have about an 18-inch view. The water is so murky and muddy underneath there," said Dave Lucas, chief of the Glen Campbell Volunteer Fire Company.

The muddy lake was also tiring the divers, he said.

Matt Powell, a member of the Punxsutawney Fire Department dive team who coordinated the dive, said emergency responders received help from throughout central and western Pennsylvania. More help is expected today.
Lucas said Hemlock is a man-made lake covering 60 acres behind a dam on Straight Run near Johnsonburg, Indiana County. The lake is about 20 feet deep in the area where the victim disappeared, and about 200 yards wide.
Police have not released the man's name pending notification of relatives. They did not report how the accident happened.

Lucas said Hemlock Lake was formed in 1970, after the Pennsylvania Fish Commission constructed the Straight Run Dam. It's the centerpiece of the 205-acre Hemlock Lake Park, which is owned and managed by Indiana County Parks & Trails.

Paramedics from Jefferson County EMS were on the scene Saturday and Sunday, while Citizens' Ambulance Service was also dispatched to the lake Saturday.

Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker and a deputy coroner were at the scene throughout the weekend.

In addition to the members of the Punxsutawney Fire Department dive team (Central Elk Run and Lindsey), divers from Blairsville, Falls Creek, Kittaning, Jackson/East Taylor Township, Grampian, Shippenville, and Oil City/Franklin searched through the lake's murky waters.

Boats were provided by Central, Blairsville, Treasure Lake, Falls Creek, Kittanning, Hawthorne, Curwensville, New Bethlehem and Mount Pleasant.

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