By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
A 26-year-old man drowned Saturday afternoon in Berlin Lake near the Mill Creek Recreation Area, and his 5-year-old nephew was rescued just as he was about to go under.
The Mahoning County Coroner’s office confirmed Sunday night that the
victim died but would not release his name or residence pending notification of relatives and completion of an investigation by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s
The drowning was the second in the Mahoning Valley over the weekend. Police using boats recovered the body of a 21-year-old Amish man in Mosquito Lake on Saturday after he jumped in the water from a boat to cool off.
Men who were fishing from a boat saw the man, Eli Miller Jr. of Middlefield, enter the water, and he did not surface, said Capt. Ed Hukary of the Warren Fire Department.
The Berlin Lake victim was found in about 7 feet of water
between 20 and 30 feet from shore. The victim and child were among a group of people swimming from shore to a sandbar 20 to 30 feet from shore, officials said.
An eyewitness to the drowning, the 13-year-old daughter of Tom and Kelly Rosato of Mogadore, who were camping at Mill Creek, said the victim was swimming with the boy on his back between shore and a sandbar when he appeared to push the boy up and then went under the water.
She quickly alerted her father, and he and several other men
began diving, trying to find the victim. Rosato said a friend
rescued the 5-year-old.
He said they recruited a boater to use his fish-finder, and the victim was found. “A friend of mine and an off-duty policeman couldn’t get him off the bottom and then a diver came and tied a rope to him, recovered him and took him to a helicopter, which transported him to St. Elizabeth Health Center.
Rosato said he could not understand what appeared to him as inactivity by what he believed were water rescue personnel on shore who didn’t come into the water and help look for the victim.
“I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble. I just want to make sure there is a quick response out there if something happens again. I’m sure they are great guys and brave and would go into a burning building to rescue someone. Maybe it’s the training,” Rosato said.
In fact, it was the training.
Members of the Portage County Water Rescue Team were following protocol, said Melissa Allison, a member of the water rescue team and an emergency medical technician with the Deerfield Township Fire Department, which has jurisdiction for Berlin Lake.
David Brown, commander of the water rescue team, said he was not on the scene but said from what he heard on the radio the team was interviewing witnesses to get the story and find a reasonable place to look for the victim.
“Some people might think doing nothing, but we take time to save time,” he said.
Brown said he doesn’t know what first responders did.
“We have divers from all across Portage County and it can seem like a long time to get to there,” said Allison who is an EMT and ground support n, not a diver.
“Swimming without equipment was definitely above and beyond the call of duty. They definitely took some risks,” he said of the men who tried to find the body.
“We are trained not to free dive without the proper training and equipment. If there are a lot of free divers ... if I get caught on something, or exhausted, or have a medical problem ... it just worsens the problem,” Allison said.
“There are sometimes people who think you don’t move fast enough. We have to do it the right way, the safe way. It may seem in their eyes we’re not doing something. They can’t distinguish me from a firefighter or a diver. Certain rescue team members are divers, some shore support. It’s hard for people to understand,” she said.