Body of Lower Burrell man recovered after drowning near Harmar
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A Lower Burrell man died last night after falling off the front of a boat and drowning in the Allegheny River in Harmar, police Chief Jason Domaratz said.
Michael Schultz, 31, a contractor, was standing on the front of a moving 20-foot pontoon boat when he fell into the middle of the river at about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday, Chief Domarantz said.
The driver of the boat, a man in his 60s who worked with Mr. Schultz, immediately jumped into the water to try to rescue his friend, Chief Domaratz said. The driver was able to grab onto Mr. Schultz in the water but could not bring him into the boat.
Witnesses told police that Mr. Schultz appeared startled from falling into the water. Chief Domaratz said witnesses were not sure whether Mr. Schultz could swim.
The Blawnox Volunteer Fire Company rescue team and Allegheny Valley Volunteer Fire Company responded to the call but were unable to locate Mr. Schultz, Chief Domaratz said.
They called off the search about 2 a.m.
The search was restarted at 8 a.m. today and Mr. Schultz's body was recovered at 10:30 a.m. with the help of a cadaver dog from Canine Aided Emergency Search and Rescue that directed divers to Mr. Schultz's body.
Chief Domaratz said the rescue group also included the Monroeville dive team and the Allegheny Valley and Blawnox fire companies.
Chief Domaratz said that Mr. Schultz and the driver were joined by three other friends and coworkers on the boat. The driver of the boat was properly registered.
He said there was alcohol found on the boat but it was unknown whether alcohol played a role in Mr. Schultz's death.
Mr. Schultz fell into the water below Allegheny River Lock and Dam No. 3 near Hancock Farm Road, Chief Domaratz said. His body was found in the middle of the river about 50 yards from the shore and between 150 and 200 yards from an island in the middle of the river. He said river depth ranges from 4 to 20 feet.
Chief Domaratz said police believe Mr. Schultz's death was an accident but that the incident remains under investigation.
First Published July 26, 2012 3:26 pm