Man drowns at Indian Falls
UPDATED 9:30 a.m., Thursday, July 14.
An adult male visiting Genesee County from Buffalo died this evening in a drowning accident at Indian Falls.
The victim has been identified as Bradley Augustin, 22.
State Police are handling the investigation and no foul play is suspected.
Witnesses and first-responding firefighters said there were about 30 people at the falls tonight swimming and jumping into the water, even though Genesee County's moderate drought conditions have left the Tonawanda Creek with low water levels.
Triniti Morris, from Hamburg, was among the swimmers. She said people were having a good time and then somebody mentioned somebody was missing, and other people were saying, "no, no, nobody's missing."
One of her friends then spoke to a young man who seemed to be having trouble swimming and he said he was OK.
About five minutes later, somebody noticed he was missing.
Another male dove into the water and located him and several people helped pull him onto the rocks, at which point another young woman began giving him CPR.
Morris said the woman performing CPR got the victim to throw up and she thought the victim had started breathing when paramedics, she said, instructed the woman providing CPR to turn the victim on his left side. At this point, Morris said, two State Troopers arrived and ordered everybody to leave the scene, including the woman performing CPR.
Morris was concerned that nobody continued CPR, but Pembroke Fire Chief Jamie Waff said typically, when certified CPR personnel arrive on scene, they take over from witnesses who first started CPR.
"It’s great to see bystanders starting CPR, but it’s very confusing when they're wrapped up in the situation and we don’t know if they’re actually certified," Waff said. "When we get on location, we’re actually certified in CPR with the defibrillator. If anyone told her to leave, that is probably the reason because there were certified personnel on location to take over at that point."
Adding to the difficulty of the situation at Indian Falls, Waff said, is the congregation of drunken patrons at the bar, who sometimes cause issues when firefighters are attempting to perform a rescue.
"There’s always an issue when we come here because you’re usually dealing with intoxicated people who think you aren’t doing it fast enough," Waff said. "Our number one concern is firefighter safety. We have to make sure all of our guys are safe as they go down. It’s a law enforcement issue because you are dealing with a bar-type situation."
It was a tense situation at the scene and one neighbor of Indian Falls was upset enough to provide reporters with a profanity-laced commentary on what he perceives as inattention by the owner of the Log Cabin Restaurant, the Town of Pembroke and local law enforcement to the dangerous situation at Indian Falls.
Barry Guthrie doesn't think anybody is doing enough to keep swimmers and divers off the falls.
"We've been fighting this for 10 years," said Guthrie, who moved in 2002 into a house near the falls once owned by his grandparents.
He said he's been to the town, but the town, he said, can't determine who holds title to what, and he said that even though the Log Cabin has posted signs all along its property that say "No Trespassing," he doesn't think the owner takes the situation seriously because he believes the falls are public property (Genesee County owns the Tonawanda Creek from the City of Batavia to the Tonawanda Indian Reservation).
Responding to the scene were Town of Pembroke fire, Indian Falls fire, Genesee County Emergency Services, the Rope Rescue Team, Mercy EMS, Mercy Flight, the Sheriff's Office and State Police.