Crews search Allegheny River for missing anglers in Lower Burrell
Divers were expected to return to the Allegheny River on Tuesday morning to continue the search for two anglers who vanished on Sunday night from their fishing spot in Lower Burrell.
Steven Sieminski, 62, of Harrison and his 30-year-old son Justin Sieminski have not been seen since they left for a fishing trip about 9 p.m. Sunday, according to Lower Burrell police Chief Tim Weitzel.
The Sieminskis were expected home about 1 or 2 a.m. Monday.
The chief said the men's family contacted his department Monday afternoon to report them missing.
Steven Sieminski's sister, Patty Huckabaa of Arnold, and his niece Jamie Haugh of Allegheny Township said the men were experienced anglers who had fished at Braeburn before.
While the Sieminskis occasionally camped overnight, it was unusual for them to remain out of contact for so long, the women said. They said the men were not answering their cellphones.
“They would never just disappear,” Haugh said.
“We're praying for a positive outcome,” Huckabaa said.
Rescuers were called about 4 p.m. to search by foot, boat and helicopter along a two-mile stretch of Allegheny River shoreline from the Tarentum Bridge to Lock and Dam 4 between Harrison and Lower Burrell.
The Sieminskis' red Chevrolet Blazer was parked along Lowe Road near Edgecliff Road in the city's Braeburn neighborhood, a popular fishing spot.
Aside from Lower Burrell police officers confirming they saw the SUV parked in the same spot overnight, Weitzel said, there are no known witnesses who saw the men fishing.
The chief said there is no sign of suspicious activity: “We have nothing to indicate they're missing due to someone else's volition.”
Some of the Sieminskis' fishing gear was found along the shore a few hundred yards downriver from their SUV, in the area where Chartiers Run flows into the river.
A team of bloodhounds and handlers from the Westmoreland County Sheriff's office arrived about 7 p.m. Weitzel said the dogs signaled on the area around the gear and the water's edge.
Divers from Murrysville Medic One were called into the water about 7:30 p.m. Shortly afterward, Westmoreland County Detectives John Clark and Tom Klawinski carried the Sieminskis' gear and fishing poles away from the wooded shoreline.
Weitzel said the divers' search was exacerbated by a debris field of waterlogged branches and logs just downriver of the fishing spot. The chief said the debris prevented rescue boats with sonar from coming closer to shore.
About 9 p.m., the chief said the search was called off because darkness made it too dangerous for divers to continue. At that point, several family members who had gathered near the scene left.
“For the divers' safety, we're going to call it off for tonight,” Weitzel said. “My heart goes out to the family that I can't give them more information tonight.”
Liz Hayes is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4680 or firstname.lastname@example.org.