Monroeville man, 51, apparently drowns while fishing in Allegheny River near Plum

September 16, 2018
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Police talk with an unidentified man regarding an accident that occurred on the Allegheny River off the shores of Plum and Springdale on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018.

A 51-year-old Monroeville man apparently drowned in the Alle­gheny River near Plum and Springdale on Saturday while out fishing with another man and a dog, according to authorities.

Multiple police, fire, paramedics and river rescue units were called to both sides of the shoreline to investigate a report of a person being submerged in the water just after 10:30 a.m.

Plum police Lt. Lanny Conley in a news release said Gregory Rudcki of Monroeville, a friend, and a dog left the Springdale boat dock at 8 a.m. The second man, who owned the boat, wasn’t immediately identified.

Conley said the men were fishing when they had to make some repairs to their fishing tackle.

They decided to cross the river to the Plum side, off of Barking Road, where the dog could swim in shallow water.

Conley wrote that Rudcki “apparently entered the water voluntarily and began to struggle staying afloat.”

The boat owner provided the man with a flotation device, and Rudcki appeared to begin to swim toward shore but went under water and didn’t resurface. The boat owner then called 911.

Rudcki’s body was found shortly before 2 p.m., about 15 feet from shore.

Darrick Gerano, administrative director of the Murrysville Medic One Dive Team, said he was the one who found and recovered Rudcki’s body.

He said divers relied on search patterns and feeling in the murky water to find Rudcki, who was discovered at 9 feet. The entire dive operation took less than an hour.

“He was pretty much found in the location that witnesses said that he went under, so that helped a lot,” Gerano said.

Gerano said there were some challenges with the rescue, including a 20-foot, steep embankment divers had to descend to be able to get into the water, and low visibility.

“Ropes had to be used to get people down to the river side,” he said. “Between that and just the standard low visibility, (those were) probably the two biggest (challenges).” The visibility in the river Saturday was 2 feet.

Gerano said several fire departments responded, and, in addition to his dive team, there was a dive team from Monroeville and Lower Kiski.

He said it’s beneficial when several agencies respond to an incident because divers can be swapped out if they get fatigued.

“The more people you get there, the better it is for anybody,” he said. “As our divers become tired, we can swap them out with somebody fresh.”

Allegheny County Police and the state Fish and Boat Commission were also called to the scene and will continue to investigate, Conley said.

Editor’s note: In an earlier version Lanny Conley’s name was spelled incorrectly.

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