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Boat goes over dam on Allegheny; 2 unhurt

| Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007

Rescuers pulled two men from the Allegheny River on Friday after one drove a speedboat over a dam.

Raymond Dominici, 40, and Jason Long, 26, both of Cheswick, were not injured when they were thrown from a blue Sea Raider about 3:40 p.m. The accident occurred when Long, the driver, failed to control the boat as it headed toward Lock and Dam No. 2 at Highland Park near Sharpsburg.

"We went over that dam at full throttle," Dominici, the owner of the boat, said. "That was a hell of a splash."

Long, who is Dominici's nephew, said he had only driven the boat once prior to yesterday. At that time, the speedometer was broken, and he could only travel at 10 mph. Yesterday's trip marked the boat's first time on the river since being repaired, Long said.

"The driver is not intoxicated. He didn't realize the dam was there," Pittsburgh police Sgt. Jason Lando said. "We are still investigating at this time."

The Fish and Boat Commission will make the final decision about charges and how the boat will be pulled from the river, according to Lando.

Long could not estimate the boat's speed as it neared the dam, but he said he tried to pull on the reverse to no avail.

"As soon as I saw the edge I threw it in reverse, but the boat instantly dropped," Long said. "Luckily, I can swim."

Pittsburgh River Rescue responded immediately, pulling the two men to their rescue boat.

A news helicopter hovered over the two men as rescue workers were still en route, and a man inside attempted to pull the men aboard. However, the strong downdraft created by the blades of the helicopter made that too difficult, Sharpsburg police Chief Leo Rudzki said, and the helicopter flew away as rescue boats neared.

The Blawnox Volunteer Fire Department rescue boat responded to the scene, along with Pittsburgh police and EMS, O'Hara and Sharpsburg EMS, and firefighters from the Aspinwall Volunteer Fire Company.

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