Man drowns in Erie Canal

Updated: 06/27/2014 12:36 AM
Created: 06/26/2014 5:09 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams

A 21-year-old man has died after drowning in the Erie Canal Friday afternoon near the railroad tracks between Buffalo Road and Chili Avenue where Rochester borders Gates.

The Gates police chief called this a terribly tragedy, but one that could have been prevented and he's appealing to the community: do not swim in the canal.

Chili resident Stu Milligan, Chili Resident: "I'm not surprised something happened, because they have been pretty rambunctious at times."

Stu Milligan says he walks the canal path in Gates Monday through Friday and often sees kids hanging out here.

"I see kids there almost everyday when it's hot and sunny and warm like it is today. It's very common, it goes through the whole summer. They congregate there, they have fun there, they're being kids."

Thursday afternoon that fun turned deadly. Police say a 21-year-old man and a small group of friends were hanging out here. Police say one person jumped in, then the victim, but he never came back up. That's when someone called 911.

Chief Jim VanBrederode says, "About 40 minutes later, the fire department did recover a male from the bottom of the canal who was in approximately 10 feet of water. They brought him up to shore, unfortunately the person was deceased."

The chief says this is a famous hangout and you can see that. The area is littered with beer cans, there's evidence of a fire pit. The problem comes, says VanBredrode, when people decide to go in the water.

He says, "The canal is not a safe place to swim, you have a current, there's debris in the water as well as the wall. The banks are approximately 18 to 20 feet tall, which makes it hard to get out of the canal. This is a terrible tragedy that happened, but clearly preventable if we just keep the kids out of the canal."

The victim is a Rochester resident; the chief says he will release his name Friday morning.

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