PITTSFIELD - Crews of workers on Wednesday completed an arduous effort to recover the body of a man who apparently drowned late Tuesday morning in the west branch of the Housatonic River.
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said divers completed the mission around 2:35 p.m. on Wednesday. Working since about 10 a.m., crews were able to stop the flow of water that had trapped the man's body in the spillway of the Tel-Electric Dam on Mill Street.
The body was taken to the state Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy, said Captain Patrick F. Barry, the commander of the Police Department's detective unit. Barry said he didn't know when the autopsy would take place.
Authorities haven't identified the man, whose body contained no identification, Barry said.
Acquaintances told The Eagle he is from California. Police say he apparently had only been in the area for a few days. Police are asking that if people have information that could help to call Pittsfield Police Detective John Gray at (413) 448-9705.
The man went under water while swimming in a pool in the river upstream of the dam around 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The water drains into a spillway in a whirl of water rescuers were careful themselves not to become entrapped.
According to Czerwinski, authorities stopped the flow of water by using a crane to lower a large aluminum plate into place and propping several large sandbags against it.
It took a considerable amount of time to bring in the supplies and equipment. But once the flow of water through the spillway was stopped, it disrupted a whirlpool that had pinned the man's body against the grate, authorities stated.
After the flow of water was stopped, a crew in a boat attempted to remove the body from the river, but were unable. Two divers then entered the water, and recovered the body within a few minutes.
Czerwinski said the man was drawn into an intake valve for the spillway that is located upstream of the dam. The whirlpool pinned the man against the grate to the intake valve and the water pressure held him in place, he said.