WVa boating accident: 2nd body found, man missing

AP News
Posted: Apr 04, 2011 6:39 PM
WVa boating accident: 2nd body found, man missing

Searchers recovered two bodies Monday after three men went missing in a fatal weekend boating accident on a West Virginia river, a National Park Service official said.

Both bodies were recovered near where the boat carrying five men capsized Sunday afternoon on the New River in the southern part of the state, said Chief Ranger Jeff West.

West identified the recovered bodies as Paul Malone, 23, of Lester and Sam Acord, 49, of Richmond, Va. The search for the remaining missing boater, Dean Halsey of Lester, was suspended Monday afternoon because of the approach of severe storms, West said.

Jeff Acord, of Sandstone, and Daniel Malone, of Lester, swam to safety and were treated and released Sunday, West said.

None of the men wore life jackets though the boat had at least some aboard, West said.

"This would not be a tragedy if all those men would have had on life jackets," he added.

Life jackets must be carried aboard boats in West Virginia although use of the safety devices isn't mandatory for those over 13, according to West.

But he said muscles can stop moving momentarily in swift, cold water and raise the risk of drowning.

"You can see almost instantaneous drowning," West said. With a life jacket, however, "you float back to the top even if you go under."

The men were aboard a flat-bottomed jon boat, which is a common sight on the New River, West said. The 14-foot craft has a rated carrying capacity of three people and 350 pounds.

Searchers worked until dark Sunday, then resumed Monday morning with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Water control gates at a dam 15 miles upstream were closed to reduce the speed and depth of the water, making the job of search divers easier and safer, West said.