Accident Database

Report ID# 3552

  • Unknown
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Woman missing on Lehigh River may have capsized canoe trying to save dogs

Daniel Patrick Sheehan and Tracy Jordan


The search on the Lehigh River for a 53-year-old Walnutport-area woman missing since Wednesday night resumed Thursday morning with less optimism about finding her alive. Neighbors and family members said Pamela J. Boyko, who lives on Three Mile Lane along the river in Lehigh Township, Northampton County, entered the river in a canoe to try to retrieve her two dogs. Boyko's daughter, Samantha, said her mother was babysitting her children, who accidentally let out the dogs, pit-bull mixes named Spike and Tess. She entered the river before 7 p.m.

Pamela Boyko's boyfriend, Andrew Rushatz, said they have lived together along the river about eight years and she is familiar with the river. However, the river is running about a foot higher above normal and their regular canoe was recently stolen, Rushatz said. He said Pamela Boyko entered the water in a fiberglass canoe that is "lighter and easier to tip" than the one that was stolen.

ehigh County dispatched search and rescue emergency personnel from Laurys Station, Schnecksville, North Whitehall Township and Lehigh Township around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday after family members found the canoe capsized downstream just north of the Route 145 Treichlers Bridge. A neighbor who lives on Three Mile Lane said this wasn't the first time Boyko went onto the river in a canoe after the dogs. "She does this when they get loose on the water thinking they're going to drown," the neighbor said. "She went to get them and took the canoe and next thing you know." The search was called off around 1 a.m. Thursday and resumed around 8:30 a.m. Thursday. Boats were launched north and south of the Treichlers Bridge and helicopters from the state police and St. Luke's Hospital searched from the air Wednesday night. Rescuers also searched an area where they thought they heard a woman's voice.

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