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Police: Rafting guide was intoxicated when Ohio woman drowned (2nd update)

September 28, 2012
Associated Press

INDIAN LAKE (AP) - A whitewater rafting guide was apparently drunk when a 53-year-old Ohio woman fell out of his raft and drowned during an outing on an Adirondack river, authorities said Friday.

Rory Fay, 37, of North Creek, was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of Tamara Blake of Columbus while rafting Thursday morning on the Indian River in Hamilton County, state police said.

Capt. John Tibbitts said Blake, Fay and Richard Clar, also 53 and from Columbus, were thrown into the water when the raft hit some rapids about 20 minutes after starting their excursion around 10 a.m. at Indian Lake.

Clar was able to cling to the raft and steer it to the river bank while Fay swam to shore, Tibbitts said. Clar walked to a road near the river and flagged down a car, which took him to the state police barracks in Indian Lake, Tibbitts said.

A search was launched for Blake around noon, including a state police helicopter and personnel from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, Indian Lake rescue squad and Indian Lake Fire Department. Her body was later found 5 miles downstream in the Hudson River. The Indian River flows into the upper Hudson at the Hamilton-Essex county line.

Tibbitts said Blake, Fay and Clar were outfitted in wetsuits, helmets and life jackets. It wasn't known yet how Blake died. An autopsy was scheduled Friday at Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake.

Officers who spoke with Fay determined he was intoxicated while guiding the raft, Tibbitts said, adding that toxicology results that would confirm he'd been drinking weren't yet available Friday afternoon. Fay was being held in the Hamilton County jail on $50,000 bail. A message left with his lawyer, Allen Day of Johnstown, wasn't immediately returned.

Troopers said Fay is a licensed guide employed by the Hudson River Rafting Co., based in North Creek. The company's website says it has been offering whitewater rafting excursions since 1979. It operates on the upper Hudson, Black, Moose and Sacandaga rivers.

Messages left Friday afternoon at the company's offices weren't immediately returned.

Rafting guides are licensed in New York by the DEC. The agency said Fay has a valid DEC guide's license for rafting on the Indian and upper Hudson rivers.

In 2010, the Hamilton County district attorney's office charged the company's owner, Patrick Cunningham, and another of his guides with reckless endangerment after some of their customers said they were sent on whitewater trips without licensed guides. District Attorney Marsha Purdue said she couldn't comment on that case because it is still pending.



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