Tragedy on the river: Sayre man drowns
ATHENS TWP.- A Sayre man drowned when his boat capsized Saturday afternoon on the Susquehanna River in Athens Township near an island in the river, according to Bradford County Coroner Tom Carman.
He identified the victim as Michael S. Smith, 47, of Sayre. Carman said the man's boat capsized about a half-mile down from the Sayre Boat Launch. One man was with Smith in the boat, and survived, Carman said.
As the incident unfolded, police and emergency workers set up a command center along Riverside Drive, just up the road from the intersection with Brown Road. Rescue personnel headed out onto the river on boats and a helicopter buzzed by overhead a few times.
Carman issued the following news release on the event: "On July 9, 2011, at approximately 12:51 p.m., Michael S. Smith and Kenneth Foss were thrown from their boat when the boat they were traveling in capsized while on the Susquehanna River just south of the Sayre Boat Launch. The boat capsized throwing both men from the boat. Kenneth Foss was able to surface and survived the event. Michael S. Smith, 47 years old, from Sayre, Pa., did not resurface and was trapped under water between the boat and a tree limb."
According to Carman, Smith was brought to shore by the water rescue and dive team at 4:14 p.m. at the Sayre boat launch. He said Smith was found about one-half mile south of the Sayre boat launch. He said the cause of death was freshwater drowning and the manner of death was accidental.
He said Foss phoned for help when the accident occurred.
"That was my understanding," he said.
According to Carman, the two men were fishing on the river. He said the boat capsized because of the current.
"It looked pretty swift from shore," Carman said of the current.
Waterways officers from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission investigated. In addition, those responding included the Greater Valley EMS Dive Team, Athens Township Police, Athens Township Volunteer Fire Company, Sayre Police, North Towanda Water Rescue, Athens Borough Police, and the American Red Cross, Carman confirmed.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.