April 9, 2001

Canoeing Accident

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The weather seemed warm and spring-like yesterday, but two Cornell students found that Cayuga’s waters were still unripe for swimming.

During a canoeing outing on the lake at an area located about four miles outside of Ithaca, the students encountered rough waters and their canoe capsized.

“It was our first time in a canoe,” admitted Gabriel Lemus grad. “It was rough out on the water, and a wave hit the boat pretty hard.”

Lemus and another student were thrown into the freezing water and friends rowing in a canoe further away from them tried to come to their aid.

Carolyn McGory, a local resident, witnessed the accident from her home near Route 89 on the way to Taughannock Falls and aided the students.

“I saw they were needing help and I just did what anybody would do,” said the former University employee.

McGory rowed out to where the canoe had capsized, and along with her neighbor Edward Biondi, gave the students lifejackets. The two residents worked to pull the students out of the water and back to McGory’s dock.

Despite the recent warm weather, the water temperature is still hovering around 38 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

“They couldn’t even lift their arms when we got to them. When we brought them in, they couldn’t even get their feet under them — we estimated that if a couple more minutes had passed, they wouldn’t be here,” McGory said.

“It was a little traumatic, a little embarrassing,” Lemus said.

“They’re a very lucky couple; they know it, too,” McGory said.

Archived article by Alison Thomas