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Body pulled from river

| Saturday, Aug. 4, 2001

BETHEL: The body of a woman was pulled from the Allegheny River late Friday after divers searched for more than an hour.

Armstrong County Coroner Bob Bower said the woman, whose identity was not known early today, was reported missing about 8:45 p.m. and her body was recovered about 10:10 p.m.

The white woman from 25 to 35 years old was found about 50 feet from shore and in about 15 feet of water, Bower said. She was wearing a black bikini.

Bethel Police Officer Bill Rupert said the woman was swimming with two friends when she disappeared under the water near the Kelly Station section of the township.

'They were swimming, one of them went under, they couldn't find her, so they went for help,' Rupert said. The women were all in their 30s or 40s, he added.

Bower said the cause of the woman's death is under investigation. It would be 'inaccurate' to assume the woman drowned, Bower said, refusing to go into detail about how she died.

The woman was found not far off shore from a campsite with two tents. Police sealed the area with crime scene tape.

When asked if the woman was a victim of foul play, Bower said, 'It's not safe to assume that at this time.'

Bower said the woman's death is under investigation and that an autopsy will be performed today.

Bethel and Manor township fire departments, Ford City Ambulance and divers from Kittanning Hose Company 6 participated in the search for the woman's body.

The woman's death was the second this year in the river.

A New Kensington man drowned May 9 after jumping from the Ninth Street Bridge in New Kensington. James W.R. Lewis, 32, of 30 Willow Court died as a result of asphyxiation due to drowning, the Westmoreland County coroner's office said.

A Lower Burrell teen-ager drowned in the Allegheny in August 2000. Benjamin Ansani, 16, hit his head and slipped beneath the waters near the Braeburn section of the city, police said.

Staff writer Michael Miller of the Leader-Times. Michael Aubele can be reached at maubele@tribweb.com

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