Boater dies in Allegheny River near Harmar |
Valley News Dispatch

Boater dies in Allegheny River near Harmar

Emily Balser
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Searchers check the Allegheny River between Harmar and Oakmont for a man reported missing from a boat on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Police and first responders stand by along the Allegheny River in Harmar after a man was reported missing from a boat on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Police say a 76-year-old man died after falling into the Allegheny River from this boat just down river of 12-Mile Island in Harmar on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Oakmont’s river rescue team loads sonar equipment onto its boat while searching for a man who fell into the Allegheny River on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect hometown of the victim.

Officials have identified the man who fell out of his boat and into the Allegheny River and died Thursday.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as John Franklin Kenawell, 76, of Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis.

Harmar police Lt. Otto Gaal said rescue divers from Monroeville used sonar technology to recover his body Thursday afternoon.

Gaal said Kenawell was on his way back to Twelve-Mile Island about 12:15 p.m. after dropping his grandchildren off on the Harmar side of the river when for unknown reasons he fell out of the boat about 20 feet from the island bank.

Kenawell’s wife and witnesses heard him yelling for help.

“His wife attempted to throw him a life vest,” Gaal said. “He was unable to reach the life vest due to the undercurrent. We believe he went under and never surfaced.”

Officials said Kenawell wasn’t wearing a life jacket, and Gaal said early reports indicate he didn’t know how to swim. He was on the boat by himself when he fell out.

Gaal said the river is dangerous for swimming and boating because of all of the rain the region has had recently.

The victim’s boat could be seen empty on a sandbar in the river Thursday afternoon.

Harmar police will complete the initial investigation and then turn it over to the state’s Fish and Boat Commission.

Twelve-Mile Island is between Harmar and Oakmont in the Allegheny River and is home to dozens of cottages.

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