Town of Webb Police say 69 year old Jerry Jennings of Rome was boating Wednesday evening on Stillwater Reservoir with his brother Calvin when their boat overturned. The two were in the water for hours before they were discovered. Jerry Jennings drown, and his brother was sent to Lewis County General Hospital for hypothermia. Town of Webb Police Chief Ronald Johnston says this isn’t the first time there’s been trouble on the Reservoir.
"We have had several deaths over the years. Stillwater Reservoir and the Hamlet of Beaver River have to be navigated very, very closely, and if you’re not familiar with the Reservoir it can be treacherous."
New York State Forest Ranger Matt Savarie is assisting in the search for the missing boat. He explained some of the weather conditions that can affect boat traffic at Stillwater.
"A lot of times when you get around the main point, there will be a wind coming out of the big bay to the south here, Twitchell Bay, and just because it’s calm in here doesn’t mean it’s always calm once you get out into the middle of it, so that’s typically the issue…or shoals if people hit the shoals."
Harrisville Resident Carl Pierce and his family come here to fish. He warns boaters to be aware of the shoals that lie below the surface of the water, but the real trouble can come from above.
"When the wind’s coming from different directions it can get really rough, and we’ve actually been here on a couple rescues where it was that rough."
Police don’t know what caused Jennings boat to capsize, but Chief Johnston says the weather may have been a factor.
"Right now our suspicion is that the boat was overloaded. We did find a lot of camping gear that was floating, and it’s also our understanding that this was their second trip in with camping gear. Again we’ve confirmed with family members that it was a small 14 foot aluminum boat in very rough conditions."
Debris from the capsized boat stretched for about a mile, and it may be days before finding the boat, but that is the one piece of evidence that police hope will provide some answers.
"Once we recover the boat we’ll be able to look at all the equipment and determine the probability of what failed."