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SOUTH PYMATUNING — In spite of a South Pymatuning police officer’s efforts, a Sharon man died Saturday after accidentally driving his vehicle into the Shenango River.

Daniel A. Carr Jr., 38, of Sharon, was pronounced dead at 5:46 p.m. by Mercer County Deputy Coroner Mike Renner Saturday at the Shenango Reservoir Mahaney Boat Launch.

The cause of death was determined as asphyxia following aquatic submersion, or drowning, with the manner of death ruled as accidental.

Police first encountered Carr shortly after midnight, early Saturday morning when a South Pymatuning police officer saw Carr’s vehicle stopped near Mahaney Recreation Area. Carr’s vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, had no tail lights on despite the late hour and severe storm at the time, South Pymatuning police Chief Paul Ferm said.

As the officer turned his police SUV around to get behind Carr’s vehicle on Kelly Road, Carr accidentally drove off the Mahaney Access Boat Ramp and into the Shenango River.

The officer immediately discarded his heavier equipment, including his vest and boots, and entered the water in an attempt to save Carr. However, he was unable to get Carr free and was almost dragged underwater a couple times, Ferm said.

Multiple agencies responded and attempted to rescue Carr, although only his vehicle was recovered that night and the search was called off around 3 a.m. due to a lack of visibility. Crews returned later that morning around 7 a.m. Saturday and resumed the recovery efforts, including a group from Maryland equipped with a sonar unit that ultimately helped find Carr’s body.

Crews were also able to recover Carr’s phone, and found that Carr was originally at Thelma’s Sports Nook Friday night, before he left for an address in West Middlesex, Ferm said.

Thelma’s Sports Nook is located on East High Street Extension in Sharpsville, next to Kelly Road Bridge. The bridge serves as the only access point for the Kelly Road neighborhood and some Shenango Dam facilities including the Mahaney Recreation Area.

Due to the combination of weather conditions that night and the lack of lighting from Carr’s vehicle, as well as a lack of streetlights along Kelly Road, Ferm suspected Carr may have taken a wrong turn after leaving Thelma’s and became lost.

The officer who attempted to save Carr was not injured Saturday and returned to duty, Ferm said.

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Like David L. Dye on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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