The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 8, 2013

Woman, dogs drown in lake

Fell through thin ice, rescuers say

By Melissa Klaric
Herald Staff Writer

PYMATUNING TOWNSHIP — A woman and her dogs who had been missing since Wednesday were found dead Thursday morning beneath the ice of Shenango River Lake.

The woman was identified by Mercer County Deputy Coroner John Libonati as Jean Black, 56, of Hubbard.

“It appears she went out on the ice to rescue her dogs and went through the ice,” Libonati said.

Black was pronounced dead at about 11 a.m. at the scene, Libonati said. He ruled the death an accidental drowning, and added there was no evidence of foul play.

Transfer Volunteer Fire Department safety officer Don Patterson said Black went missing sometime Wednesday and the search began at 9 a.m. Thursday.

The bodies were found 40 feet off the shore of the west end of Shenango Recreation Area campground, off West Lake Road in Pymatuning Township, said Patterson.

“She went out with the dogs last night, and we don’t know what happened,” said a man who identified himself as Black’s brother-in-law.

Black’s sister and her husband were awaiting news of her as they stood by her car, which Transfer Fire Chief Phil Steele said was found in the parking lot of the recreation area at 10:22 a.m. Thursday.

At 10:30 a.m., a hovercraft was fired up and Jamestown Fire Chief Mike Cadman, along with Transfer firefighters Eric Dickson and Matt Goodemote went across the unstable ice to recover the bodies. A hovercraft rides on top of the ice on a blanket of air, Steele explained.

“The ice was two inches thick and in terrible quality,” Steele said. “Nobody should be out on that lake for fishing or anything else.”

Firefighters recovered the bodies with no issues and no other injuries, Steele said.

Pymatuning Township police led the search team of about 30 people with firefighters from Transfer and Jamestown, and rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assisting.

Herald Staff Writer Tom Davidson contributed to this report.