Eight years ago today !

Discussion in 'General Conversation' started by DeerHunter01, May 26, 2008.

  1. DeerHunter01

    DeerHunter01 Active Member

    Back 8 years ago today, I will start this story off with a nice sunny morning in the wilderness of McKean County Pennsylvania, I got up at 5:30 AM to get a shower and get ready to go work on the Allegheny Reservoir, ( Kinzua Lake ) As a State Conservation officer, We had a 22 foot Boat parked at Kinzua Marina about mid way on the lake, As I picked up my partner for the morning and headed over to the lake, I remember dreading that we was going to be busy that day with all the people being their camping and visiting that weekend.
    It always happens every year, Memorial day, July 4th, Labor day, the busiest days of the year for that lake. Kinzua Lake is a big lake located right in the middle of the Mountains of PA, laying between Warren City, PA and Bradford City, PA and the lake is about 30 miles long, with 10 of them miles being in the State of New York, on the Seneca Indian Reservation. The lake is about 18,000 acres; the lake is surrounded by the National Forest of some one-half million acres of outdoor fun in both developed recreation areas and rustic backwoods sites.
    Ten campgrounds of varying sizes along the lake shores, the population of this area goes from around 2,000 people to over hundreds of thousands during these weekends and sometimes it's the worlds worst work days for some of us. I thought I would share this day of work with me because its embedded into me for the rest of my life as one of the worst days I think I ever had at work and some of the funniest days of being at work. So please bare with me as the day began on Kinzua Lake in McKean County and Warren County Pennsylvania. 8 years ago today.

    Mr. Dennis my partner and I left the town I lived in at 0600hrs dressed in full uniform, we stopped at a local mini-mart Gas station to get a cup of coffee as I do every morning going into work. As we drove the 18 miles to the lake I remember the morning in the mountains, that smell you never forget of the trees and the blooming mountain Laurel along the road on the Famous State route 6 , nothing but trees for miles and miles, very few homes and a lot of cabins stuck back in the middle of the woods, as we entered the National forest, I stopped for a few seconds at the National forest office Kinzua Station, and checked in with the Parks Law Enforcement officer that was on duty that day, to see where they would be working at and to let him know that we would be out all day in the State Patrol boat, that if they needed anything to yell and we could back them up from water, See this area has a lot of Primitive camp grounds that is very hard to get too from shore, some of which it would take you an hour to walk by foot to get to them from the vehicles, and of course you can imagine , everything from Domestics to fights to screaming at one another for taking ones spot seems to happen at these sites every year.

    Well after leaving the Park office we arrived at the Kinzua Marina, and got out and headed to the patrol boat, parked in their marina docks, Just as I was walking across the grass I noticed a red boat coming out of the marina, one of them racing boats, in a no wake zone, ( Idle area ) with the boat cranked up full tilt heading out of the bay, this bay holds about 200-300 boats that are mourned here, that people sleep in and relax on the docks, this guy is up about half throttle getting ready to hammer it down with a 3 foot rollers coming off the front of his boat, as I hear at 7:00 AM in the morning about everyone there screaming at him. My Partner was in the patrol boat already and was yelling at me to get in, as I remember right then this is not good to start the day off right away, as I jumped into the driver seat backed the boat up and took off, blue lights and siren out of the bay after Mr. Racing Boat man, As I exited the bay the boat was heading towards the North end of the lake, it took us about 10 Minutes to get up along side him and to get him stopped, I can remember this guy saying to me as I was trying to pull up to the side of his boat and board him, Officer is there a problem ?

    The guy I had stopped as I remember was from the City of Buffalo NY, and was there for the weekend in his new 30 foot racing boat, with his wife and one child around the age of 8 or 10 years of age, I advised him of what had happened and he told me then : sir this boat, I just bought about 2 weeks ago this is the first time I have really took the boat out on a lake, except for maybe one or two times near Niagara falls on the Lake Erie end of the Falls.

    He had no idea what a Buoy meant with the No Wake symbol on the front of it, he had no idea what a flame arrestor was on his motor, I am not so sure he even knew what a PFD was, But after he left me, he was sure what a no wake was, that I will bet he never forgets now. As we left him I can still hear me saying to Officer Dennis I hope this is not how are day is going to be, as I said knock on wood please..

    After working in the lake for awhile I headed to what they call Willow bay area of the lake, as we rounded the front end of the bay about 12:00 Noon, I noticed a pickup truck with dully wheels backing up about a 27 foot boat, and as always this is one of the best spots to sit and watch, as I always do ever time I am on the water, the launch ramps are some of the most exciting locations to visit and watch, everyone from "Laurel and Hardy" come to launch their boats into the water, and I think I have seen about every thing you can to launch a boat, but this guy was going to do it different.
    His wife was in the boat behind the steering wheel , and he was in the drivers seat of his new truck backing the boat down, when he hit the water I could hear her yelling at her husband something, so I shut the engines off on the Patrol boat , now mind you I was about 100 yards from them, and I remember hearing her saying she is taking in water over the back end of the boat, and the husband got out of the truck and walked to the back of his vehicle and climbed up into the boat with his wife, just as the truck and boat was going backwards into the lake, with in seconds the entire truck was under water, and the rear end of the boat was just barley sticking out of the water, as the husband and wife were swimming to shore, this all but took less then a few seconds, as I started the boat and went to shore to their aid, they had just reached the shore line soaking wet and these two were into one of the biggest arguments you have ever seen.

    I had called for a dive team out of Corydon township and a wrecker out of Bradford, you should of seen the vehicles backed up, to put in their boats, it was unreal, so we called for the law enforcement of the National forest to come in and give us a hand until we got the truck and boat pulled out of the water, as we were getting ready to leave 2 1/2 hours later I could here this guys wife say to him ! I hope your happy now that boat owned us and now we don't even have it, plus your truck is gone how are you going to go to work on Tuesday, I think she got the last word in too, cause I don't remember him answering her as we left.

    We headed back to Wolf run Marina to have lunch it was already 3:00 PM in the afternoon and half the day was tied up with the truck and boat in the water, Just as we got sit down to eat, I had a guy come over and ask if he could ask us a question, and of course just as your eating everyone in the world wants to ask you a million questions, So I told him sure what can we do for you, and he said Sir ! me and my wife were talking the other night here, and we was wanting to know if you guys gave tours of the lake ? I can remember my partner almost spitting out his drink as he just took a full swallow, I easily explained to him that we were not allowed to have anyone in the boat with us due to Insurance company rules, and he said well how about if we ride with you in your vehicle, and take us a tour around the National Forrest ? Officer Dennis spoke up this time and said Sir Mr. Simcox would love to take you and your wife out for a tour of the lake and National Forest, as soon as he is off work this evening and show you guys around, We should be done about 7 PM, and he can meet you at the Forest service building on Route 6, Just as I turned around to give Mr. Dennis a look ! the guy said that’s great I will see you then, and turned around and walked out of the restaurant, I don't think I could of even spoke as steam came out of each ear, and I can say, I told Mr. Dennis if this happens your going to ! and he said no I have to take the wife out to dinner, last night was our anniversary and we didn’t get a chance to go out, so I am taking her this evening.. lol

    Of course we always were trying to get each other into trouble, lol. that was part of the fun of it. anyway we went back out on the lake and patrolled for about another two hours and headed back in at 5PM, to the marina and put the boat away, Just as I heard our other boat from Warren coming out on duty from the other county, As we were driving back talking about the day and the nuts we seen and laughed about out on the lake, my radio went off from County control as I answered the radio I looked at Officer Dennis and said this is not good, I could tell by the way the dispatcher at the 911 control sounded when he called for me.

    Sure enough 911 center stated ! we need you to turn around and head back to the lake, we have a boating accident with a missing 12 year old female from the boat !

    I can remember looking at Officer Dennis as they gave us direction on the radio to the accidents location, thinking this one I don't want to go on!
    As we got back to the boat and fired it up and headed up the lake towards the New York line, I came upon two boats sitting side by side, waving us down, very short and sweet instead of going into the whole story word from word, this is what happened:

    There was a guy from Bradford PA ( all name’s withheld ) who went to the lake for the weekend with their pontoon boat, they ask this guys daughters best friend to go with them for the weekend , this girl lived right next too them and the girls were best friends, the father got onto the pontoon boat after drinking all day, in the heat and sun and took the family for a ride down the lake, as they were within 100 yards from shore the two 12 year old girls were sitting on the front of the Pontoon boat, dragging their feet off the front into the water, and the father was doing figure 8's with his pontoon boat doing about 26 MPH, ( A doctor from Buffalo New York was riding past in his boat about 5 MPH and was watching them acting nuts on the water,) When the guys daughters best friend fell off the front of the boat, and was dragged under it, and the Prop hitting the girl in the head, after 48 hours later on the water, I had a four man dive team with me on our boat, when the head team diver came up to me in the water next to my boat and said Mr. Simcox I found her, She is laying in 58 foot of water and I have a marker tied to her.

    As we brought her to the surface and to the bank waiting for the corner to come from warren county, I looked around at us their was 14 guys in my group and one guy said a prayer prior to anyone else arriving, and remembering this had been my worst day at work when I went out over 50 hours ago, I had no idea that we would be involved in a boat accident, that took almost 2 years to prosecute, the driver of the boat was over two times the legal amount of alcohol allowed into his system, he was arrested and prosecuted in Warren County PA. I think I spent the next 5 days at the accident scene doing an accident reconstruction with the boat; you have no idea how hard that is with little reference points. I will never forget this day as long as I live and this morning when I woke up it was 5:30 Am right at the same time I did 8 years ago, to start this day off at work, Lets just pray and hope this day will not even affect anyone out there boating today and hope that all learn the rules of the road and be safe boaters today.

    I thought I would share this story with you in hopes that maybe someone will read this that will maybe stop this from ever happening again. I have had a lot of boating accidents and drowning but anytime a kid is involved it’s not the same, especially when they are with someone Else's family.

    Happy Memorial Day
  2. smokey

    smokey New Member

    D.H. Thankx for your story,Its like that here this weekend too.After some long thinking I told my wife that we should leave this weekend to the ameatuers. Thankx for your work the the waterways.

  3. r ward

    r ward New Member

    Kathleen G
    Eric if this story keeps one family from living that tragity then it will be great thanks for reliving it as you wrote it I am sure it was not easy
  4. zeboman

    zeboman New Member

    Tragic story DH, but this type of stuff happens way to often on the three rivers and needed to be told because there are alot of guys boating under the influence every time they`re on a boat, we never have alcohol on our boat, if you want to drink stay on land. Pennsylvania treats this the same as being behind the wheel of a car and people still do it anyway.
  5. willcat

    willcat New Member

    i think that's the same on every body of water at this time of year, sad but true..Hope somebody reads this & takes all the care in the world to prevent it form happening again

    BIG GEORGE New Member

    Prayin is ok however. The booze needs to be taken out of the boats and off the water. It is not the place for it. Again. Toothless laws with little or no enforcement.:angry:
  7. Mike81

    Mike81 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for telling that story DH, I usually avoid the lakes on the big holidays, just for reasons like you stated. It's ashame that someone has to die cause of the stupidity of another. I don't know if some people will ever learn though, they'll hear a story like this and still head out the next weekend boating under the influence thinking it won't happen to them.
  8. Mickey

    Mickey New Member Supporting Member

    Thanks for the eye opening story DH. Sad. I have to agree with Big George on this one.
  9. CountryHart

    CountryHart New Member

    Thats why i opted to stay home AGAIN for the holiday. I'll jus have to double up and catch up next weekend. Thanks for posting this Eric.
  10. BailBonds

    BailBonds New Member

    Very sad. A tough job Eric. I have a friend in the Fl Keys on a FD that does body recovery and alcohol is a factor the majority of the time. Anyone that sees this type of activity on the water needs to call it in. We need to do our part. LE officers can't be everywhere.
  11. catman4926

    catman4926 New Member

    THANK'S D H ,

  12. ozzy

    ozzy New Member

    Lost Wages
    Eric thanks for the post. I hear ya, thats why I dont go to Lake Mead on holidays. Me and a few friends named it Lake Meathead for that reason. I'm sure tomorrow Ill read about the Idiots that made the news, just hope no one dies. 365 days a year minus holidays leaves plenty of days to avoid the crowd.
  13. catfishcrazy256

    catfishcrazy256 New Member

    Eric, Thanks for the story Its sad that a young girl lost her life do to someones stupity ! the one who was supposed to be the responsible party. Hope this Merorial Day was better for you .
  14. Wabash River Bear

    Wabash River Bear New Member

    Thats a very sad and sobering story Eric. Lets hope that it dont go unread by someone that should have read it. Good post, sad lesson. I hope you all have a safe and memorable holiday weekend. WRB
  15. catfisherman_eky3

    catfisherman_eky3 New Member

    DH thank you for sharing this story with us I read every bit of it , and when your partner told that couple you would give them a tour of the forrest, I laughed, but then I read about how that 12 year old girl got dragged under the boat, that really shows why people dont need to drink and drive because stuff like this can happen and does happen all the time, I mean who knows if he wouldnt have been drunk and been out on the water that little girl would probably still be here today, thanks for sharing the story and hopefully alot of people will read this and give honest thought about drinking and driving expecially during these holiday season.
  16. rob128146

    rob128146 New Member

    Rockwell, North Carolina
    DH I can relate to you!! I was a police officer for 7 years 2 of them being on the water ways of high rock lake and the yadkin river. I investigated 2 fatalities on the water one being a very close friend that I grow up with and one being a 13 year old boy. Both was alcohol related! The 13 yrold is very simlar to your story but dad was intoxicated and run aground in a low spot in the lake clearly marked with markers and danger signs and hit it full throttle throwing his son overboard. I loved my job but I'm so glad to be offically resigned and retired from law enforment!! I have a new career now!!:big_smile: I really miss it but I don't miss the bad things that I still think about on a daily basis, or I will see something that reminds me of a tragic encounter I have had. Anyway thanks for the post and thanks for your service on the waterways! I know it a tough job I have been there and done that.
  17. plainsman

    plainsman New Member Supporting Member

    Sad story. The day started off like it was gonna be somethin. Wouldn't be so bad if the person who caused it paid the price for carelessness. Little mistakes happen so fast. Too much booze and reaction times slow. I hpe everyone else is careful and safe this summer.
  18. jeremiad

    jeremiad Well-Known Member

    I too want to thank you for a well written reminder to us all to be careful. Water, boats, engines, and props, all are factors that are far too dangerous to have alcohol involved.

    On the water, as on the road, life is far more pleasant and enjoyable when you're sober, and the life you save just might be your own!
  19. slabmaster

    slabmaster New Member

    good post . it never ceases to amaze me how fast laughter can turn to terror out on the water.