UPDATE: Authorities have identified the 67-year-old Chicopee man who drown after his boat capsized on Threemile Pond. Read more here.

Wednesday September 26, 2012

SHEFFIELD -- A Springfield-area man died on Tuesday after a row boat he was fishing from capsized on Sheffield's largest pond in a remote section of town, according to local police. Another man safely swam to shore in the cold, murky water.

The 60-year-old victim's body was recovered several hundred yards from shore in Threemile Pond on Tuesday evening -- nearly seven hours after the incident, according to Sheffield acting Police Chief Eric Munson. It was unclear Tuesday night whether an autopsy would be performed on the man.

Around 11:30 a.m., the two men, whose names were not released, were boating in the middle of Threemile Pond when their small vessel suddenly flipped over, Munson said.

One man, 49, also from the Springfield area, managed to swim to the edge of the shoreline, where he yelled for help until a hiker heard his cries about 90 minutes after the incident. The unidentified hiker, who did not have a cell phone, drove to the nearest occupied home and called 9-1-1 to report the incident.

Berkshire County and state police dive teams were called in to search for the older man.


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An estimated 100 police, fire and other rescue personnel from Sheffield and several surrounding communities also responded to the scene, some bringing boats and cold water rescue equipment to help with the recovery.

The victim's body was found about 6 p.m., not far from where the boat capsized near the center of the 168-acre pond, Munson said.

"It's a murky, very weedy pond and along with its size made for a difficult search," he said.

The survivor was treated at the scene, police said.

State police detectives out of the Berkshire District Attorney's office and Massachusetts Environmental Police are investigating the cause of the accident.

Threemile Pond, located off a dirt road more than a mile from Home Road, is part of the state wildlife management area owned by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. It is mostly known to local residents who like to hike and fish in the secluded area.

"It's very hidden, but we think [the two men] have fished there before, probably hearing about it from residents," said Munson.

The pond was created in the 1960s when a dam was built impounding Ironwork Brook, which feeds the broad, shallow body of water, according to Trails.com. The web site says rocks and waterlogged stumps line the shore with long stretches of silty wetlands.

A few low islands are scattered across the pond; the smallest serves as a nesting area for geese. Bald eagles often visit the area and even albino white-tailed deer have been occasionally spotted near the water.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.