Local News

Drowning Victim Found In Jordan Lake

Posted March 7, 2004

— Rescuers have recovered the body of a man who drowned in Jordan Lake on Saturday.

The man was fishing when he fell overboard and could not make the swim to shore. The man's body was found in the lake Sunday during a search that those involved considered difficult.

Boats that had been searching Jordan Lake for hours came to a halt around noon Sunday. That is when rescuers found the body of 24-year old Dominic Kieltyka of Chapel Hill.

Kieltyka and his roommate, 20-year-old Robert Slattery, were fishing in a canoe Saturday. When one of them stood up to cast his rod, the canoe tipped over, dumping both men into the water.

"The water was cold," Chatham County Deputy Fire Chief Mark Riggsbee said. "If we could have found him immediately, it would have been a rescue situation."

Slattery was able to swim to shore. Rescuers spent about seven hours over Saturday and Sunday looking for Kieltyka, using cadaver dogs and an infrared camera.

They found Kieltyka by dragging the bottom of the lake with triangular devices that have hooks attached. The body was 25 feet down, close to the area where the canoe had been recovered Saturday.

Rescuers said the conditions in the deep part of Jordan Lake were really tough to work in. They said it is highly unusual to find a victim as quickly as they did this time.

"It gets harder and harder to operate the deeper the water gets," Riggsbee said. "Plus, this lake is known to have log stumps, things like that, and that interferes with the dragging operation."

Furthermore, the visibility was basically zero for divers.

Riggsbee said none of it would matter if boaters would wear life jackets -- something Kieltyka and Slattery did not do.

"If you wear a life jacket, and you've got it on, you're not going to drown," he said. "We've never had a victim drown with a life jacket on."

Rescuers said there was alcohol on board the canoe. But they did not say if Kieltyka was intoxicated.

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