Crews searching for missing man in Allegheny River near O'Hara
Rescue crews searched the Allegheny River for hours on Friday for an elderly man they fear drowned after he was swept underwater at the Fox Chapel Yacht Club.
Witnesses told police the 74-year-old man was wading in chest-deep water near his docked houseboat, when he apparently lost his footing and was carried downstream by the swift current. He was not believed to have been wearing a life jacket.
Rescuers were called to the O'Hara marina about 3:50 p.m. and began searching by boat and from the shore. They focused on an area about 300 yards downstream of the marina, where the man was last seen.
About three hours after the man disappeared, police said the search switched to a recovery effort, instead of a rescue.
Blawnox fire Chief George McBriar said his company's river rescue unit called off the search at dusk. He said they planned to resume searching about 9 a.m. Saturday.
McBriar said rescuers used Aonar devices and brought in search dogs that can track scents through water. They were assisted by Allegheny County's river rescue team.
Officials said the man's wife was taken to an undisclosed hospital for evaluation.
Several boaters said the river around the yacht club was less congested than usual because high, fast, debris-filled water kept many boats docked.
“Usually this place would be like the Los Angeles freeway on the Fourth of July,” said Tim Sweeney of Blawnox.
Sweeney said he'd been kayaking on the river's calmer back channel near Harmar on Friday morning but could barely paddle hard enough against the current to row upstream.
“It's unreal how fast the river is running today,” Sweeney said.
The National Weather Service reported the river at the C.W. Bill Young Lock and Dam between Harmar and Plum was flowing at about 1.3 miles per hour on Friday morning. The average speed on the Allegheny River could not immediately be determined.
The weather service on June 25 warned recreational boaters to avoid the Allegheny River because of its high, fast flow and large amounts of debris in the water. But that advisory ended last weekend.
At the yacht club, boats were decorated for the holiday while many people on the docks watched the rescue boats circle. Rescuers were preventing boats and other watercraft from using the river in the search area, which is about two miles upstream of the Highland Park Bridge and Lock and Dam 2 near Sharpsburg.
Bystanders said before the man went missing, he was placing stakes with reflective markers into the shallows between the rear of his boat and the Squaw Run tributary at the downstream end of the yacht club.
They said he installed the markers every year to warn boaters of the river's depth near the shore.
“It's a shame — he was doing something nice for fellow boaters when this happened,” Sweeney said.
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- New Kensington homicide suspect faces trial on tampering charge
- Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation donates $12,000 to revamping middle school library
- Machinists ranked No. 1 occupation by Department of Labor
- Upper Burrell man accused of selling Suboxone
- DUI checkpoints take on dangerous drivers
- Frankstown Acres parents pleased — kids stay at Center Elementary
- Middle schoolers stem STEM Challenge at Penn State New Kensington
- Stretch of Route 56 to close
- Freeport sewage rates to jump 25 percent
- Rates rise for Upper Allegheny customers
- Brackenridge high-rise infested with bed bugs