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Croton River Boaters Sought Thrill Ride, Found Calamity [VIDEO]

The quintet of friends from around Westchester are today mourning one of their members.

Five men decided to take a raft down the Croton River Sunday afternoon, as Tropical Storm Irene wound down.

They entered the river from Croton Gorge Park in Cortlandt at the base of the dam in a five-person inflatable.

 The first call for rescue came in at 5:41 p.m.

  • At 5:52 p.m. police officers found Joseph Ceglia, 33, of White Plains, clinging to a tree branch in the vicinity of Mayo's Landing. They pulled him from the water.  
  • At 6:02 p.m. got a call from Kenneth Gianquinto, 37, of Valhalla. He had floated downstream, made his way to the Ossining bank of the river, flagged a car down and called police on a cell phone. 
  • At 6:12 p.m. Michael Wolfert, 37, of Croton-on-Hudson, was located in the vicinity of 91 Trusedale. He had climbed ashore and out of the ravine.
  • At 6:24 p.m. Croton police Lt. Russell Harper spotted Peter Engel, 53, of Cross River, in the rapids just south of Mayo's Landing. An inflatable police boat was able to pull him out. Engel was given CPR at Echo Landing and taken to Phelps Memorial Hospital Center in Sleepy Hollow, where he was pronounced dead. 
  • At 7:28 p.m. Brian Dooley, 33, of Yorktown, was located clinging to a tree limb in the rapids about 300 yards south of Silver Lake park. Emergency crews struggled to reach him by boat or helicopter. At about 8:45 p.m., he broke free. Within about 20 seconds he was out of the snag and racing downriver where he was rescued by Croton police officers in an inflatable river rescue boat in the area of Dickie's Cliffs. Suffering from hypothermia, he was taken to Echo Landing, then to Westchester Medical Center.

Three Croton firefighters also had to be rescued. One set of rescuers had been stationed at Echo Landing to look for victims at the mouth of the Croton River upstream from the Metro North trestle bridge.

As they put their boat into the river in the swift current, it overturned. Due to storm and tide, the level of the Croton River was almost up to the bottom of the railroad bridge. Three men were were swept under the bridge into the turbulent Hudson River, whipped by storm winds and surges. They were able to swim ashore at Croton Point south of the Croton-Harmon railroad yards. 

john September 01, 2011 at 05:46 PM
I won't debate whether or not Dr. Engel was loved, respected etc. I'll take your word on that. But let's look at the consequences of what he did and what almost happened here. He's dead. Three volunteer firemen could have died. Additional police officers could have died. Had there been emergencies elsewhere (not of a victim's "own making" as was certainly the case here), others could have died. Now Croton residents, indeed County residents, are being restricted not only from the gorge but from parks with a pond! A pond! Croton may also need a new boat. While these things are material, when coupled with the potential for loss of life, I have every right to complain about the foolhardy antics of men whose alleged real-life experience resulted in a very real-life death. Their "expertise" was born of little thought, steeped in over-confidence, and could have been deadly for everyone involved.
johnnyangel10 September 04, 2011 at 09:50 PM
No,but stupid questions should be
Brando September 13, 2011 at 08:26 PM
All people die, but not all truly live. At least they tried to do something adventurous and fun whilst the rest of you boring lemmings sit there and bitch about things on the internet.
Bob.Z September 19, 2011 at 04:22 PM
Probably 'Negative Comments' posted by people who likely cross three lanes of traffic a time (without thinking) on the highways or drive oblivious on the roads not realizing their impact to others. Peter lived a life that most would envy .... Stop typing and get off your couches. My heart goes out the rescuers & the family of the survivors who live on............
Steve November 12, 2011 at 10:46 AM
Where do you all find time to hang out online and engage in mind numbing chat for hours on end?

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