Saturday September 29, 2012

INDIAN LAKE, N.Y. (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 Mountain 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, 80 miles northwest of Albany.

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, and 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 wet suits, helmets and life jackets. It wasn’t known yet how Blake died. An autopsy was scheduled Friday at Adiron dack 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 in Warren County. The company’s website says it has been offering whitewater rafting excursions since 1979. It operates on the upper Hud son, Black, Moose and Sacan daga rivers.

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

Rafting guides are licensed in New York by the state Department of Environ mental Conservation. The agency said Fay has a valid DEC guides 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.