PYMATUNING LAKE —
A sudden squall causing waves 2 to 3 feet high on Pymatuning Lake played havoc with fishermen Saturday afternoon — swamping and damaging three separate boats containing a total of four fishermen.
However, no injuries were reported, according to Pymatuning State Park’s superintendent.
All three shallow-draft boats were partially submerged by waves knocking water aboard them as the storm rolled and roiled the waters of the lake in western Crawford County around 3:50 p.m.
“It was a scary time,” Dan Bickel, Pymatuning State Park’s superintendent, said Saturday night in a telephone interview. “They got into trouble, but all of them had life jackets.”
Bickel said the 17,088-acre lake was crowded Saturday as there were several fishing tournaments taking place.
Each of the three 16-foot boats involved sustained an estimated $2,000 in damage, according to Bickel.
The boats all were in the area of Snodgrass Road boat launch on the eastern shore of the lake. That launch is located about midway between the Route 285 causeway and Jamestown.
Earl Izydore of Wexford and Jon Stone of Pittsburgh had the boat they were in submerge about 100 yards off Billy Q Road, but they were able to get the boat to shore, Bickel said.
Ernest Pate Jr. of Butler was fishing south of the causeway when waves began battering his 16-foot boat and tore the outboard motor from its mount. “It sent the motor to the bottom of the lake,” Bickel said. Pate was able to get his boat to shore.
John Keene of Fenelton was fishing in his boat off Snodgrass Road boat launch when it swamped and submerged, Bickel said. Several other nearby fishermen in boats were able to assist Keene in getting the boat to shore.
The boats all were in areas of the lake that has depth of 15 to 20 feet, Bickel said.
But it wasn’t the depth that was the concern.
“The water temperature is 54 degrees (Fahrenheit),” Bickel said. “If they’d have been in the water, they would had less than 15 minutes (before the onset of hypothermia).
Hypothermia is a lowering of the body temperature and occurs when body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
When body temperature drops, the heart, nervous system and other organs then can’t function correctly. Left untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to complete heart failure and respiratory system failure and death.
“It’s exactly why you need a personal flotation device,” Bickel said.
Personnel from Jamestown Volunteer Fire Department medically checked each of fishermen, but none was transported to an area hospital.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.