ST. JOHNSVILLE -- An Ilion man drowned Friday at Beardslee Reservoir (East Canada Lake) after he likely fell from a kayak while fishing, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department said.
The body of 57-year-old Donald W. Stannard was recovered from about 10 feet of water following an extensive search.
Police received a call at about 8:30 a.m. about an unoccupied kayak containing personal belongings on the reservoir, which borders Montgomery and Herkimer counties.
A deputy who responded to the scene was told by a witness that he saw a man struggle and then submerge in the kayak’s vicinity.
A search of the area began, both on land and water, including the use of jet-skis, boats, sonar, a K-9 unit, a helicopter and divers. “We had no idea where he was at that point,” Montgomery County Sheriff Jeffery T. Smith said of Stannard.
Until the victim’s body was found, Smith said, it was possible he swam to shore.
After an extensive search, Stannard’s body was located in approximately 10 feet of water on the northeast side of the reservoir.
He was pronounced dead at the scene by Montgomery County Coroner Susan Quackenbush.
Smith said there were other people on the shore fishing at the time of the incident, but only one actual witness.
He said it’s believed that Stannard fell from the kayak. He was not thought to have been swimming at the time of his drowning because he was fully clothed. “I don’t know how he got in the water,” Smith said. “I don’t think we’ll ever know, but it appears that he somehow fell in because some of his fishing equipment fell in as well.”
Also responding to the call ware the Montgomery County Emergency Services Office, the New York State Police, the St. Johnsville Volunteer Fire Department, the St. Johnsville Volunteer Ambulance Corp., the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a life jacket when you’re in, near or around the water,” Smith reminded the public.