Accident Database

Report ID# 115955

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description

Video shows a small stream, mild current, riffles, many strainers


Richard Lackey, 76, of West Hempfield Township, was found in the water near Circle Avenue sometime late Monday morning


Authorities confirmed a 76-year-old man was found dead

 in the Conestoga River near Circle Avenue in Lancaster on Monday.

Author: Alyssa Kratz, Fox 43

Published:  April 25, 2022

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — As Central Pennsylvanians inch closer to summer weather, more and more of them are heading out to relax on local rivers – but some water activities can quickly turn dangerous. After a warm Sunday, a search for a missing kayaker resumed Monday morning on the Conestoga River in Lancaster County. Later that afternoon, officials confirmed the kayaker was found dead in the river near Circle Avenue in Lancaster. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency confirmed the victim was a 76-year-old man. Authorities say he went missing Sunday afternoon.

Todd Roy, the president of the Conestoga River Club, says he knows the water well. He says in the Upper Leacock area, the water is about three feet in depth. “How somebody could have potentially come to trouble causes me concern for what the river conditions looked like that I may have missed," said Roy.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission says while the air is getting warmer, water takes longer to heat up. Right now it's still below 60 degrees, cold enough to lead to hypothermia and cold water shock.

“When you go under and gasp that water, your body will shut down slowly where your dexterity and ability to move slows you down," said Rachael Thurner-Diaz, a waterways conservation officer with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

Until May 1, operators of any watercraft are required by state law to wear a life jacket at all times. “With the rise due to spring rains, they’re more susceptible to tip or capsize so we require those people to wear those life jackets," said Thurner-Diaz.

Experts say you should also never go on the water alone, no matter how much experience you have. “Be aware of the potential hazards, be prepared to deal with them, don’t go alone, and even if you’re not going alone let people know where you’re going to be and when you should be home," said Roy.

Waterway conservation officers also stress if you do fall out of a boat or kayak, try to stay with your watercraft because it's easier to spot.

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