Watkins marina owner dies in accident
STARKEY—Divers recovered the body of Burdett resident Don Roberts Jr., 44, Sunday, Sept. 5, from Seneca Lake following a fatal powerboat accident, Saturday afternoon.
The Yates Sheriff’s report said New York State Police found the body at 5:24 p.m., after scans revealed an object 105 feet under the water, approximately 300 feet from where the accident happened. Divers brought up the body and Roberts was taken to shore at Juniper Point, in the town of Starkey (approximately 13.5 miles north of Watkins Glen). Officials said he was identified and pronounced dead at 6:25 p.m. The coroner’s report, released Tuesday, said the cause of death was accidental drowning with a crushed left side torso and multiple vital organs damaged.
Roberts was the owner of Glen Harbor Marina in Watkins and an Odessa-Montour school board member.
According to the Yates County Sheriff, Juniper Point residents called 911 Saturday, Sept. 4 around 4:48 p.m., saying a power boat was going in circles and that two people had fallen out. The report said Saturday, rescuers retrieved the boat’s operator, Frank Carson, 34, of Odessa, and he was flown by Mercy Flight Helicopter to Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa. Sheriff Ron Spike said Carson suffered a fractured sternum and was released Sunday. The report said neither Carson or Roberts was wearing personal floatation devices at the time of the accident. After Roberts was not immediately found, Spike said he was presumed drowned.
According to the sheriff, the vessel was a 29 foot 2005 Kryptonite I/O open cockpit power speed boat, owned by Roberts. The sheriff’s press release said Carson, a mechanic at Glen Harbor Marina, and Roberts were out testing the boat and had equipment attached to the engine. Spike said the two left Watkins Glen in the vessel at approximately 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Authorities said the boat was traveling between 70 and 80 miles per hour when the steering wheel started shaking. Spike said before Carson could de-throttle the boat, it suddenly veered to the right and witnesses said the two men were thrown out. Spike said the investigation found that no alcohol was involved.
The report added that the boat was impounded and the sheriff’s office will have a boat specialist examine it.
A number of agencies and volunteers helped with the search, including the Seneca County Marine Patrol, Border City Fire Department dive team, Red Jacket Fire Department divers, West Lake Road Fire Department, Himrod Fire Department, LifeNet air search, New York State Police and the Dundee Volunteer Fire Department.